Amae – “Lucy needs a change” – Photography, London 2012


“Lucy needs a change” is the most recent close examination in Amae’s makeup implosion series.

The snap is a colour photographic print that captures a model during a fashion shoot. Makeup continues as a key focus. The makeup is excessive; it drips along the face impeding the model’s sight, forcing the her into the private silence of reflection.

The makeup is a mask which fails to cover the feelings that the model is forced to confront. The tension caught in the model resonates with the anticipation experienced prior to an operation or the confusion of the subsequent post-anesthetic awakening. Perhaps she is in a transitory state, still on the threshold of a hypothetical sexual re-assignment. In this state of forced self reflection, her body speaks of a possible incoming change or simply plays witness to a distant trauma.

Queerness manifests itself on the model’s face in the form of gloss. A see-through, slimy liquid, through which it is still possible to see the features, yet these are distorted, placing a magnifying glass to her inside torments.

The snap does not allow a total view of the model. The viewer is restricted to  half of her face and half of her body and we can see only a fragment of her outfit. Makeup and fashion are then the two conduits of meaning in this image. One answers to the other’s needs: fashion generates rules that we conform to and makeup is one of the tools we employ to achieve this purpose. In the same way, heteronormative society dictates the rules on how we have to relate through our sexual identity.

Plastic surgery is another reaction to this external pressure, but this surgery when used for sexual reassignment is rebellion from the imposed norm. The psychological tension of the need to conform to social norms can be alleviated through modifications to the body.

Can we say that this tension can potentially send the body in diametrically opposite directions? What determines which way a body will go?


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