The Rug’s Topography began with me photographing my intimate partner of six years, staging him as a conduit for my own fears and insecurities. These anxieties arose in response to distance widening between us. We were growing apart romantically while we were growing up together. We had met in our early twenties with green ideas of what roles we needed to serve in a romantic context to feel safe. During our relationship’s inception, we projected onto each other the gender-normative roles we had witnessed from our individual upbringings, and as a result, performed those expectations for one another. For each of us growing up, there was an expectation to conform to these roles and mobility within or beyond them was not a viable option available to either of us. This manner of thinking shaped our maturation through adolescence and puberty when we were encouraged to come to terms with our humanity through expression of our gender ultimately defined by our anatomy. During the latter half of our relationship we re-evaluated those expectations, both self-imposed and prescribed. We ultimately determined we had compromised beyond our comfort zones resulting in a mutual decision and acceptance that the context of our relationship could change, but we would not sacrifice our emotional intimacy.
My photographs comprise a cyclical visual diary that reflects on the trajectory of our connection as we transitioned from a romantic to a platonic partnership. The series title refers to both the transition within the private space (for example, the impression a piece of furniture leaves upon relocating it) and also refers to ones physical form (for example, the subtle or even profound transformation of the body from manicuring or removing body hair). I aimed to represent my interpretations of the varied versions of self: the performative self, the expected self, and the self floating in the liminal space between; juxtaposing the mundane environment with a subtle tension. The vantage point allows access into the private domain to witness the madness of self-discovery. The ebbs and flows of growth redefining identity are highlighted through themes of intimacy, transition, and introspection within the home.
By Rana Young