“Alone Time is an ongoing series of manipulated images that push corporeal gender presentation into the realm of the uncanny. Artifice meets naturalism in this project, which is made up of brightly colored photographs of fictional couples sharing quotidian intimacies; upon closer examination, these “couples” prove to comprise a single model – appearing as both the man and the woman in the frame. These constructed moments and relationships call into question our perception of reality and the assumptions we make regarding gender and identity.

By demonstrating an individual’s capacity to engagingly and believably embody two different genders, my project questions the mainstream depiction of binary gender roles. I hope for my photographs to blur the boundaries between masculinity and femininity, reality and fiction. By staging the same model twice in each photograph, Alone Time resists giving any stable clues about the subjects’ real-life gender identity or expression. This conceptual decision to double the gender presentation of a single body challenges the normative idea that gender presentation is stable or consistent.

Rather, gender expression can be fluid and multiple. As well, through the technical aspects of my work, I challenge representational tropes. While the individual photographs are shot on film, scanned, layered, and digitally collaged to create the final illusion of “two people,” no aspect of the subjects’ genders are digitally altered – the images are successful because they are visually convincing without manipulation of the subjects’ gender traits through means other than makeup, hair, prosthetics, costume, and pose. This choice further emphasizes the notion that gender is malleable. Alone Time is intended to be visually confusing and amusing, thought provoking, and challenging to the boundaries of the photographic medium.

For my residency I plan to create new images for Alone Time. I will spend time building a set and preparing all costumes and planning for two shoots. One will involve a “mother” and “father” with their “fraternal twin” babies, actually composed of one parent and one child, together embodying four characters. The parent and child who have agreed to participate as models for this photograph are friends of mine who recently relocated from Montreal to Quebec City. I will use the space and photographic equipment provided by VU, including the digital Hasselblad camera, to help with precision during my shoot. I will also print a smaller format of my series using the printing facilities and work on a mock-up for a future book project of this series.”

Biographie

JJ Levine is a Montreal-based artist working in intimate portraiture. Levine holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Concordia University. Mostly known for his series Queer Portraits, Alone Time, and Switch, Levine has been honoured with several awards and received grants from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. His work has been exhibited at galleries and art festivals across Canada, the United States, and Europe. As well, Levine’s projects Alone Time and Switch have been featured in art magazines, journals, and newspapers internationally. In 2015, Levine self-published two artist books: Queer Portraits: 2006-2015 and Switch. Most recently, Levine was a finalist for the New Discovery Award at the 2019 Rencontres de la photographie in Arles, France. Levine’s artistic practice balances a radical agenda with a strong formal aesthetic.