Tagged: Maria Escudero

Art Beat: Trans-Meat

Jumping rope may seem like a universal activity, but each culture puts their own unique spin on the game. In photographer Maria Escudero’s native Ecuador, girls jumping rope shout out the many roles a woman can play in the course of her life: “monja, viuda, soltera, casada, enamorada, estudiante! (nun, widow, single, married, girlfriend, divorced, student!)” At surface level, the rhymes may seem simple, but they reveal a lot about gender roles and stereotypes.

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Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

Trans-Meat, a collaboration between Escudero and her artistic partner, Sam Brown, aims to question the rigidity of these roles. Dressed in drag, Brown appears shopping for Ritz crackers in a bodega, hawking meat in traffic, and frolicking in a playground. Each photograph draws from women’s traditional roles and asks the question: what does it mean to be an Ecuadorian woman? Are the boundaries that contain these roles rigid or fluid? What are the implications of a white, American, gender non-conforming man dressed in drag being photographed by a mestiza, Ecuadorian, heterosexual woman?

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Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

Over the course of the project, Escudero and Brown met with sex workers, local business owners, and Catholic grandmothers to learn about their perspectives and ask for permission to step into their worlds. The resulting images feel intimate to the point of intrusion. While the photographs snapped in public reveal a glimpse at onlookers’ feelings, the series that take place behind closed doors capture private and personal moments. The project’s title comes from the word “transmeate,” or “to cross over.” Its meaning goes beyond the literal interpretation of using drag to perform gender; the viewer is able to cross from the public to the private with the click of a shutter.

transmeat3Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

 

Escudero and Brown completed the initial collection in 2014, but this month the pair returned to Quito earlier this month to generate large format prints and exhibit them at Arte Actual. Congratulations!