Dig in Your Heels, Stick to Your Guns by Grace Ahlbom

Self-Published (2016)
18 Pages, 21 x 24 cm, Paperback, Spiral Bound, Edition of 100

“The landscapes, still lifes and portraits are carefully arranged to create tension within these pages and further emphasize their relations to one another. I use photography as a mechanism to create an alternative world that reflects my current and past identity. By seeking out boys with the characteristics I desire, I aim to explore my own gender identity. My process for making an image starts with a sketch, usually based off a stimulating photograph or painting. I create still lifes and portraits in the studio and contextualize them within self-constructed landscapes – one that only exists in my mind’s eye. The still lifes are artifacts of my adolescence drawn from unique experiences during that period of my life, which helped shape my identity. The characters created in my portraits are not people I grew up with but rather are representations of myself at various points in time throughout boyhood. I am satisfying a void in myself by seeking out and molding these characters, and feels as though I am directing some sort of movie of my own fantasy. It represents a personalized rendering of my creative concept of gender identity. The dynamic between the male subject and female photographer brings out a certain tenderness within the portraits. This juxtaposition of soft femininity in contrast to hard masculinity tells the viewer the story of my own gender exploration. I am observing, envisioning and artistically rendering where she sits on the spectrum of gender identity.”

– Grace Ahlbom