Artist Leland Bobbé is on the brink of something influential. In his latest project “Half-Drag. . . A Different Kind of Beauty,” Bobbé explores the crossover between males and females in order to “break down the physical barriers that separate them [and question] the normative ideas about gender and fluidity.” In a world where beauty is under constant scrutiny, Bobbé is challenging the public to explore and formulate their own definitions of beauty, and the differences and similarities between the sexes.
In a recent interview with Vulture, the recent winner of RuPaul’s Drag race, Bob the Drag Queen stated “For me, drag is the ultimate art form: You don’t need to get on a soapbox, because you’re already standing in high heels. Having people’s attention is having power. It’s the same thing. If you have everyone’s attention, then you have power. The question then becomes, ‘What are you going to do with this power? What are you going to do with this attention? What are you going to do now that people are looking at you?’”
Bobbé was inspired to shoot the project after seeing “a shot of one of the male burlesque performers on Facebook dressed as half male and half female.” He asked to shoot him in his studio and from that shoot, this project was born.
I had previously done a series of portraits of neo-burlesque performer that was exhibited at the museum of sex here in NYC for 3 months in 2011. I later met a drag queen at a photography industry party and thought it would be great to do a very tight beauty portrait using the [half-drag] concept,” states Bobbé regarding his inspiration for the series.
Though the portraits may look like two separate photos digitally paired together, each image is composed in camera; meaning the subjects, like Adriana LaGlam (pictured here), actually made up half of their faces and posed for the final shot.
Photographer, Leland Bobbé was moved by this project and wanted to portray the idea that ,”through the power of hair and makeup thee men are able to completely transform themselves and find their female side while showing their male side simultaneously.”
Since its’ debut, Half-Drag has gone viral and appeared in media publications and outlets in over 30 countries including “Vogue Italia, Huffington Post, ABC News and the Sundance Channel.”
What is most fascinating about the project is that it affords viewers the opportunity to peak inside the psyche of the model subjects and see what their standard of beauty is, as conveyed by their choice of drag.
Infamous drag queen, RuPaul once said, “when you become the image of your imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.” This project exemplifies that.
Drag Queen, Kizha Carr’s person stays within a coco brown hue and flaunts fiery red strands, a stark change from his usual glowing skin and 5 o’clock shadow.
Kiki Darling embraces a different kind of beauty in golden blonde ringlets and a fuchsia pout.
The idea of gender fluidity is nothing new. In her book, A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote, “It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. … Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated.”
People were participating in drag culture even before the 1960s, though it was around that time that the culture emerged from the underground after the Stonewall riots. And, contrary to popular belief, not all who dress in drag are QGBT; some, according to one Huffington Post article, only do it as a “creative outlet.”
Regardless of your personal beliefs or convictions, this project brings to life the marriage between art and humanity, identity and self-perception, and serves as a call to action to re-define beauty on your own terms. If nothing else, Half-Drag, exemplifies Natasha Negovanlis’ statement that,”How you identify or what you prefer in the bedroom does not define your goals, dreams or interests, and has no baring on who you are as a human being.”