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🌈 🌈 Interview: GENDER AS A SPECTRUM by Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert 🌈🌈

The Gender Spectrum and Identity has been the focus of many as of recently, What is gender? and does the spectrum really exist or is this a man-made construct. Freed from the binary of boy and girl, gender identity is a shifting landscape and thousands of millennials are finding gender is a thing of the past and is to be played with, experimented and enjoyed. We speak to German portrait and fashion photographer Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert as he is set to release his new book in collaboration with Kaey documenting individuals around the world in a series of gender non-conforming portraits.

“THEORETICALLY, EVERY PERSON COULD HAVE THEIR OWN GENDER” Kay Garnellen, pg. 24

What makes a man a man, and a woman a woman? Are there people who are neither male nor female – or even both? Nothing about gender identity is fixed. Its development is often a fluid process, changing throughout a lifetime. As a result, it is always highly subjective, each person perceiving and presenting their identity in their own individual way. Gender as a Spectrum is a series of portraits of people who have resisted typical gender norms – by questioning them, breaking through them, or turning them inside-out. Photographer Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert captures the protagonists in intimate portraits while author Kaey, herself trans*, poses a set of interview questions to create written text. The collaboration began with people from the pair’s private circles, predominantly in Berlin, before the project expanded to include cities such as Paris and New York. This book, the result, is a series of portraits depicting the most diverse people to ever explore outside the heteronormative restraints of gender.

BUY THE BOOKE HERE AND READ MORE BELOW

 

Tell us a bit about you and your upbringing?

I am 27 years old, based in Berlin and work as a portrait photographer, artist, and gallerist in the city. My work focuses on authentic beauty and identity. Recently I’ve worked a lot with collages and I’m going to publish my next art/photobook “DARLINGS!“ which is like a 90’s teenage diary with photos, personal belongings, and memories from my life. The foreword is written by the one and only Walter Pfeiffer, an inspirational icon, and friend. 

How do you identify on the gender spectrum?

If you need a label I guess I would identify as a gay cis male. but my definitions of male and female are quite blurred. I often tell people that I wanted to be a girl when I was a little boy, I dressed in “girl clothes“ had earrings and played with toys that the mainstream society associate with girls, but after the book I realized the little girl I wanted to be, actually was and still is part of my identity. 

Tell us more about the book “Gender as a Spectrum“, how did this come about?

Gender as a spectrum is a photo book about gender identity. 80 portraits and interviews of people from all around the world. Hardcover, 300 pages, limited to 1000 and personally numbered. I studied photography in Berlin and needed to find a project for my graduation show. Since I have always been interested in (gender)identity, especially in my teenage years I wanted to work on something authentic that focuses on self-reflection and self-questioning, at the same time Kaey, myco-authorr of the book, asked me to do something similar with Trans* Men and women.

Kaey is a trans woman herself and works as a performer and art director in queer publishing. she is well connected in the LGBTQ+ scene in berlin. It was a perfect match, only I wanted to open up the topic and not only concentrate on Trans* people. At first, we didnt really know where this is going and just started to contact people we thought would fit in the project. we were thinking of doing an exhibition and a little paper but over the 2-3 years of work, I realized this topic is much more important and should get a better platform and more attention than just a little side project. So I decided to get some funding and publish are a real book.

Was photography always you first discipline?

Not really. I came to Berlin to study fine art but the art universities weren’t a big fan of my work at first. so I tried it with photography and applied with my snapshots from partying. I was really surprised when they accepted me but that’s how I started working with photography. After graduating, I finally became a student of fine art at the Berlin University of arts and stayed for 2 years but this year I discontinued since I already work so much as a creative I couldn’t manage both anymore.

You’ve chosen a lot of raw and real individuals to feature how did you go about casting them?

Kaey introduced me to many protagonists, but when I started traveling to different countries and cities I just asked around and visited the queer bars and became friends with the local drag queens. When you have a camera in a gay bar full of drag queens you are a magnet and you get to know everyone who is interesting to talk about.

What is the message you want to send with the new book?

Every person is unique and nothing is consistent

How can we find the new book and you?

The book costs 48€ and you can order it via “info@ohlert.de” or just visit my gallery online shop.

Follow Joseph @  // @jwo_studio & //  @p7_gallery

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