feature: exploring gender & vulnerability – the photography of canadian visual artist jah grey

December 1, 2015

Take a look at the arresting work of Canadian photographer Jah Grey. Known mostly for his black and white portraits, the Toronto based artist uses photography to explore themes of gender, sexuality and self-expression; and as he states on his Tumblr, his work encourages people “to become more open minded and more appreciative of our simple freedoms, even within our struggles, and to see the similarities that lie even within our vulnerabilities.” Grey tells us, “Systems of oppression have been created to ensure that certain individuals, who are not considered the norm, are the most unwanted, undesired, and unprotected. My work acts to educate and encourage society to unlearn the teachings that act to separate us. I want to challenge these normative ideas and deconstruct what others place on our bodies and identities. Recently, I’ve been contemplating the disconnect between the concept of masculinity and vulnerability – society often assumes a notion of masculinity (or hyper-masculinity within a cishet society) which normalizes the idea that men cannot be vulnerable by having or showing emotion, while overlooking men who choose to be visible and vulnerable, and the men who don’t fit into that ‘hyper-masculine’ stereotype. I choose to fight this in my work by photographing black men who do not fit the label of hyper-masculinity imposed upon them. Each image captures the relationship between body and space, showcasing the struggle between the idealized norm vs. the desired embodiment, and occupation of that as a certain body in that struggle.” Explore his work below (including portraits of painter Oluseye and musician Spek Won).

By Alexander Aplerku, AFROPUNK Contributor