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Transgender bodies as objets d’art

While artists have been using transgender people as art subjects, often, it is only to provoke or shock audiences with documental realism. Olga Volodina wanted to veer away from that, by instead solely focusing on the beauty of a transgender body.

Olga Volodina

Olga Volodina

As long as transgender people have been existing, artists (photographers included) have been using them to “provoke or shock their audiences with documental realism often underlined with some strong social meanings.” Photographer Olga Volodina wanted to veer away from this, though, in M2F: Male to Female, where she wanted to focus on beauty, period.

Instead of the shock factor/social commentary, Volodina’s photo collection wanted to capture “calm and sensual nude pictures shot in the same way as classic nude male/female photographs.” As such, Volodina “lets a viewer keep his/her attention undistracted and see the beauty of a transgender body in the same way as a male or female naked body.”

“Almost all of my projects are focused on a human – character, body, behavior, relationships… are the main sources of inspiration for me and the objects of my art,” Volodina said to Outrage Magazine.

In one of her earlier projects – dubbed Woman Touch – Volodina presented the beauty of a nude female body through the medium of black and white photography. M2F: Male to Female is somewhat an offshoot of that, “utilizing the same aesthetics to show transgender bodies as art objects,” she said.

Particularly nowadays, “transgender models are no longer new to the world of art and fashion,” Volodina said, “though photographers tend to expose (them) in order to provoke or shock the audience with documental realism. “

And so, in her case, “I chose the style of classic black and white nude photography, underlining the beauty of the human body, which is, in fact, beyond (sexual orientation or gender identity).”

The project was not easy to accomplish, Volodina said. “It was, in fact, quite a challenge to find models for this photo project. Contrary to general belief, most of the transgender subjects (in this case in Thailand) are rather shy and are not ready to pose naked in front of the camera,” she said.

Volodina was helped by a project coordinator, Anastasia, in finding the models. These models belong to different social groups, and have different ways to earn their living – “Some of them are bar girls, some are dancers, some work in media,” Volodina said. “They have only one thing in common: none of them are professional models.”

At the end of the day, these factors become inconsequential, said Volodina.

Because at the end of the day, “these are calm and sensual nude pictures that let the viewer stay undistracted and see their pure beauty, casting all the stereotypes aside,” Volodina ended.

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The photographs are available at M2F: Male to Female.

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"If someone asked you about me, about what I do for a living, it's to 'weave words'," says Kiki Tan, who has been a writer "for as long as I care to remember." With this, this one writes about... anything and everything.


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