How does the relationship between freedom and identity disrupt concepts around masculinity within rural spaces?

Projection Description:

My research explores the relationship between queer identity, gender performance and isolated communities within the context of rural farming.

How we choose to express ourselves can often be dictated by our surroundings, it can be the difference between “wearing a mask” and living an authentic, fulfilling life. I wish to explore the motivations behind “breaking free” from a difficult environment, what it means to leave your past behind; the struggle of returning to something that once was and the fight to carve new narratives and mindsets.  

My practice centres around the tense relationship between toxic masculinity and queer identity; how values associated with manual labour and rural living are intrinsically tied to performative masculinity. These isolated spaces can create pockets of repressed ideologies; a cycle that often lacks ideas outside of heteronormative ideals being questioned or challenged. What is called upon is the fight for transformation, and how those that challenge ideas can be the catalyst for others to find their own voices. Our connection to one another and nature is a constantly developing process, and being open to change is a chance to free both the self, and others.  


I have drawn upon real-life interactions and stories from individuals that continue to live in more isolated environments, voices that often get overlooked and misrepresented. What happens to our sense of self, when the spaces we occupy repress that very thing? My background in special effects and makeup led to the development of characters centred around these storylines; by creating animal/human hybrids that blur concepts around gender performance and challenge our relationship to animals. These characters are embodied by some of the individuals that have shared their stories with me throughout my research. They are both the subjects and the wider context; allowing for their own personality and familiarity with rural living to come through.


These hybrids reference the role of livestock used for productivity – the humble domesticated animal that plays such a crucial role in the livelihood of business. As well as the individual that challenges their own environment and struggles, despite concepts of “productivity” or social expectations. Underpinning these ideas is the figure that dictates and controls the lives around them, the embodiment of the resilience to change, growth and reflection.  


My work challenges the rural environment as both the freeing of space and the resistance of change. How individuals choose to overcome mindsets that hold people in place; and how we can reclaim our own freedoms without giving up our connections to the land.