This project will be realised as a photographic series of five images depicting the modern reinterpretation of the term Fa'afafine. The objective of Jerry The Fa'afafine is to enable discussion around the construction of male gender identity and sexuality among men of the pacific, specifically Samoan men living in south Auckland New Zealand.
This work examines the way in which our sexual preferences are inexplicably linked to the manner in which our gender identity is formed and looks at the social and cultural constructs of identity that house our desires as gay men.
Fa'afafine translates literally into english as "In the manner of a women" this being the only definition in the Samoan language that speaks to sexuality of non heterosexual men and women. The western understanding of this term being literal in that Fa'afafine are categorised as men with a leaning toward a hyper female disposition that at times is exagerated due to their contradicting male physicality. This nature and way of being is often viewed as a characture and performance of the female gender.In addition it is also perceived under its own virtues and is referred to as "the third gender" of the Pacific.
I am interested in the alternative side of this spectrum of gender and sexuality. One in which gay men perform to a hyper-masculine ideal as oposed to the femanine. I view this as every part the same performance as a Fa'afafine in that their value system is constructed with the same conviction to their maleness as say a Fa'afafine to her belief she is a woman. This ideology is framed within an urban and post migration context that is present and alive within South Auckland.
I wish to emphasize the manner in which gay Samoan men have made their sexuality invisible through this idea of performance. Jerry is a representation of this performance, his function as an art concept is to bring vissibility to the presence of gay Samoan men in New Zealand. Firstly by identifying him within his own hyper masculine environment and to bring him to the forefront of the conversation, not as an atempt to shame him, but as a mechanism to normalise and validate his experience as one that is ok to be talked about.