When James was little he loved dressing up, he loved painting and playing. He understood that playing and make believe sat next to the real world, he had no delusions of actually being a princess, a robot or a monkey but the self-consciousness that grew alongside his prepubescent body told him to put these recreations away, look like a boy, get that GCSE and don’t stand out! It wasn’t until, in adult life, James was pushed to the brink by mental stress, financial struggle and trauma. He once again turned to the power of playing make believe. He now spends his life balancing between what the world expects of him and what he wishes to expect in his world. James embraces beauty, and takes on challenges with full belief in the power creativity has to transform one’s self. Now the lines blur more than ever between what is reality and what is make-up.

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Taken over the space of one afternoon, I had no goal but to capture images of Maxi’s gradual transformation. Gathering together varying materials and make-up, we avoided setting boundaries or restrictions on what we wanted to see through the lens. The focus was on the process, not on the outcome.

Turning away from the notion of drag as creating another persona to live through, Maxi and I believe the recreation of drag empowers a larger, more genuine self, a self that is ever-present, to break free from the usual physical and social limitations contemporary life sets on our identity.

Not focused on a single visual to form imagery with, we embarked on a journey, and the images that document this journey show an evolution of the self, from internal and intimate to outward facing, ready to surge forth. It is in the transitionary space we see glimpses of a powerful creature, who sees no distinction between opulence and grunge.

To Maxi, all is filled with potential and through experimenting with varied cosmetics, clothes, fabrics and fibres, we see the building blocks of an ever increasing complexity of character, the shadows that lurk inside Pandora’s box, the ultra-ego.

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