Well, I told a lot of stupid lies when I was in high school. I guess I wanted make people believe... That I was better? Or maybe just normal. I lied about the most mundane stuff... Having friends, going on vacations... Silly childish lies. Then I came out and... that ended.
Now, I've made a book, a photo book, because being in school is weird. Being a teenager in school is weirder... and my time there was especially weird - In a very depressing suicidal way I may add, but weirder for me because I was both terrified and in love with the experience.
There are a lot of behaviors that are almost exclusive to school-like environments, some which are unexpectedly outrageous, or silly and simple and some that are... just fucking hot. Hehe... Especially if you are boy, a queer boy, in a boys-only Catholic school.
The problem of finding out that you are gay while going to a Catholic school wasn't without its consequences. Shy, introverted and scared. I developed an oppressing agoraphobia and barely socialized at all. Still, beyond my personal trauma I've come to realize that we live in a society in which the ideas of manhood and boys are in flux. During my time being in a traditional boys-will-be-boys type of setting, these behaviors set off in me, all kinds of conflicting feelings. Some, homoerotic in nature others much more complex in terms of power dynamics, aesthetics, basic social interactions, etc.
Even more interestingly, some of these behaviors were part of larger sets of actions; Actions that were both deeds of petty violence and random humiliation as well as shared moments of intense camaraderie and bonding.
For example, there is a crucial difference between, bullying and hazing. Among boys, bullying is done with the intention of shunning or rejecting, yet in hazing, the exact same kind of behaviors are carried out for an entirely different purpose. There is a complicity and permission given. There is a desire to show off, to perform. It's geared toward a celebration, a need for contact, a quest for belonging. In a heterosexual normative all boy environment, hazing is something to be desired.
Now, during the past years I've kept those used teenage uniforms, and created images, that I hope to share with him and with you to give you an insight, not only into my trauma, but also to create a photo story that shares what happened there, what I saw, what it felt like.
This photographic recreation was a methodical effort. I stalked people's old photos on Facebook, I had a list (I keep a lot of lists) of moments, of memories from what I witnessed back then. I shot myself, all over the city of Bogotá, especially around the neighborhood I grew up in and reenacted through images, my experiences of those transgressive school moments as faithfully as I could.
The themes of bullying, boyhood and masculinity remain a part of me. They are an integral part of my worldview and pour into my work. After overcoming a 7-year long depression, I decided to embark on a performance journey during the past 18 months. I needed to change - who I am, who I was. I decided to go back and confront some demons, some memories, so I put on the old uniform, and pretended to be who I wanted to have been.
This book compiles the self-portraits I took during this time where I put myself out there for the world to see. I can tell the details of my journey and the images that brought me catharsis. Maybe they will give you some insight, not of who I am, but of what you need to do, what you might have overlooked through the magnifying lens of what I saw, felt the need to rescue and what I craved to remember.