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Selfie-Centric & the Trans Gaze

Selfie-Centric & the Trans Gaze


Issue #15 of Original Plumbing features a self-portrait by Toronto artist Wynne Neilly


Courtesy of Original Plumbing

It's been a big year for trans narratives in mainstream media. But most of that attention has been on trans women such as Laverne Cox and others. A pioneer in the publishing world, Original Plumbing gives trans men visibility by documenting trans male culture with photographs, essays, and interviews related to trans experiences. For its 15th issue, editors Amos Mac and Rocco Kayiatos invited Toronto-based artist Wynne Neilly to share a photo for the cover.

The 24-year-old, queer, trans-identified visual artist and photographer is very involved in Toronto's queer scene, focusing mostly on portraiture work, "using its personal nature to reflect the development of identity and the complexities of human gender expression." Neilly's minimal approach can be seen in the cover photo which is part of a larger series of works titled Female to "Male." As Neilly explains to Out:

"I think that the approach I take lends itself to a certain intimacy between the viewer and the subject, especially when the image is based around gender expression and identity... I started this project with the intention to visually reflect on the physical changes within my transition, I never really imagined this body of work to get to the places it has reached. It feels really awesome to have my work on the cover of OP. I started reading the magazines when I was just figuring myself and my identity out, so it seems maybe a bit surreal to now be featured on the cover. It's really great."

Neilly feels images of trans men need to be exhibited to a wider community since "It's really important for people to see a wide range of masculine identities and male identities. Society's ideas around maleness and masculinity and femininity are so rigid and distorted."

While some are concerned with any sort of objectification of the body, this issue of OP is about the "Trans Gaze," and Neilly feels comfortable with putting his body in his art practice. "I want to actively be a part in fighting for trans* rights, and my goal is to educate as much as possible," he explains. "There are definitely times when I second-guess myself, but at the end of the day I have a bit of a 'YOLO' attitude towards it all. I am proud of where I am now and I want to share my experience with people to hopefully help others figure out their own path to contentment in their body/mind."

Original Plumbing is sold at independent book and gallery shops globally and available for purchase and subscriptions through the official online shop.


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