Andria Morales is a Brooklyn based multidisciplinary artist, who draws her influences from urban street culture, societal tradition and the politics of identity and otherness. Identity is a topic that resonates with her on a personal level and she’s always been fascinated with it, collecting every piece of personal identification she’s ever received. Her zine AS YOU CHANGE 2010 + 2104 is the first in a series of three, documenting the transition of a childhood friend from female to male.
Her inspiring project shows the subtly of the changes that occur, featuring photographs of herself standing alongside her friend as one body changes and the other stays the same. Her photographs approach sexuality in a way that breaks down the voyeuristic nature of a nude photograph and captures identity in a raw and beautiful way, evocative of a persons own sense of self rather than a fixed binary.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background
I grew up in the outskirts of New York City. My grandparents were from Puerto Rico, my mother was a teacher and my father a social worker. I moved to Philadelphia for college, and then worked as an art teacher, developing my artistic practice and finding an inclination toward community and socially based work.
Where do you draw your inspiration from, what influences you?
My artwork portrays different aspects of identity, exploring personal and cultural narratives through objects, images, places and performances. The handmade or printed images and objects I make echo the present cultural moment through my personal lens utilizing DIY electronics and digital technology.
In my recent work, I have documented intimate situations, which require a mutual trust between me, my collaborators, and to a certain extent, my audience, examining sexuality by looking at relationships.
Can you tell us about AS YOU CHANGE 2010 + 2104?
Five years ago, my best friend from adolescence began transitioning from female to male. My feelings about his choice were complicated, and I wondered how it would affect our relationship.
We agreed to meet at my studio once a month to catch up and take portraits to document the transformation. Our first session took place just before surgery and hormone replacement therapy.
I decided that if we were going to do nude portraits, I would also expose myself. I felt that somehow this gesture could soften the voyeuristic quality of the images, imbuing them with the narrative of two similar people comparing themselves as one changes and the other stays the same. We repeated the same poses in front of a white wall for each of six months until my friend moved away, reuniting once for another session four years later.
The images of us standing side by side once a month from January through July 2010 comprise ¾ of the booklet As You Change 2010 + 2104, published by Small Editions in Brooklyn. Also included is a recent photo of the two of us standing back to back, taken in August 2014.
Ten pages of these double portraits are bookended by headshots of my friend in 2010 and 2014. The booklet is accompanied by a wallet-sized photo of the two of us sitting back to back in our marching band uniforms in 2000. The captionless images display a sense of ambiguity about the passage of time in between which subtle changes gradually occur.
Do you feel that trans bodies are underrepresented in art and visual culture?
I do feel that trans bodies are still underrepresented in art and visual culture, though there is (and has been) brilliant work being done by amazing artists like Catherine Opie, Wu Tsang and La Pocha Nostra (to name only a few of my favorites).
You’re also part of the collaborative duo Escobar Morales, what do you do and how did that come about?
Escobar-Morales is my Internet based collaboration with Chicago artist Maya Escobar. We began collaborating six years ago when a mutual friend (artist Ian Weaver) introduced us in an email.
I was fascinated by the way Maya was using the internet and social media to do performance based work that addressed her mixed race identity as a Jewish Latina. We started a blog called Are You My Other? Where we posted self portraits addressing a broad range of identity issues… culture, gender, marital status, etc.
About two years into our collaboration, we founded AMerican MEdia Output, an online brand design and marketing agency focused on travel and tourism, which is our platform for addressing social and economic issues facing the Latino community through advertising.
Last year AMO launched a “rebranding campaign” called “Yo Soy Oro” for a North Philadelphia commercial district in a predominantly Latino neighborhood. The campaign included printed advertisements which were installed in underutilized space on solar trashcans along the main block, a website with social media channels, and a live marketing event where we dressed as promo models and gave away branded swag to visitors who filled out a survey about the neighborhood and campaign.