Portfolio Category - Portrait Awards 2014 - The Velvet Butterfly
Project info

Waria people are Indonesian transgender, the name comes from two words wanita (woman) and pria (man). They are born male but, while growing up, they feel to have a female soul: some of them try to reach womanhood also physically thanks to surgery and hormone treatment because they don’t feel comfortable with their penis while others don’t want to change completely physically and they fulfil femininity through make-up, dress-up and attitude. Mami Yulie is one of the latter. I felt really fascinated by her uniqueness and her world: thinking that Mami was born like a “he” but feel to be a “she”, how can it be possible such a change? I was born woman and feel like a woman and it is hard to think at what kind of extraordinary identity switch she has gone through. It is some kind of transformation like that of caterpillar becoming butterfly: deep, total, irreversible. These pictures, part of a bigger body of work on Mami Yulie, come out from my questions about her metamorphosis: I have tried to work on the concept of “fake”, “gender identity” and the duality between “ourselves and the image of ourselves given back by the looking-glass”. No post-production tricks have been used, I work only with light, my idea and my subject.

'Who are you?' said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, 'I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.' 'What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. 'Explain yourself!' 'I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice,

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass