This is a documentary photography project which explores gender identity and the meaning of contemporary womanhood and femininity in areas once behind the Iron Curtain. Countries once behind the Iron Curtain are often reduced to the term “Eastern Bloc”, which lumps a diverse population into a homogenous and unrecognisable mass. During the summer of 2021, I traveled along the former Iron Curtain border to 250 different locations across Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. I interviewed and documented 104 different women, non-binary, genderfluid and transgender people who like myself, were born in or after 1989 after the Berlin Wall fell down, and when socialism in these countries came to an end. With this project, I want to challenge the way that Central and Eastern European women and non-binary people are presented and contribute to a discussion about borders and gender identity in the 21st Century. To include the divisive history between the “East” and the “West” I shot this work on a Kiev 80, a Soviet analogue camera made in 1978 in a Ukrainian military factory. The metal shutter of the camera creates a metaphorical “curtain” within the images, hinting at the way Soviet history has underpinned gender identity.
The project was funded by Getty Images, University of the Arts London, and Kuala Lumpur International Photo Awards.