HIDDEN RELATIONSHIPS/ MUSES MUXE/ LOVERS
'This project started ten years ago when I started photographing my culture in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. During that period, I already knew my sexual orientation, however I rejected the idea of becoming a Muxe.
'The Muxes of Oaxaca are considered the third gender in Mexico, they do not define themselves as homosexuals, they have surpassed this idea. They are rather considered to be a mixture between both genders, and in a constant search for beauty.
'They are accepted by society, it is said that for a family it is a blessing to have one Muxe at home, because they are hardworking and care for their parents when they get older.
In my photographic journey, I started documenting their day-to-day life, doing portraits of them in their homes and in their jobs, however with the pass of time, the project became very personal and exciting. I started to establish a special relationship with them. I started to become their buddy, in order to get into their dreams and fantasies. At the same time, I tried to identify my own sexual identity and identify where do I belong in that fascinating and sensual world of the Muxes.
'Shaula is a primary school teacher, she lives in a small town on the isthmus of Oaxaca and accepting herself as she is now was quite an adventure. In this image she walks through the streets dressed as a queen, it was actually an experiment that we did to appreciate the reaction of the people. It was surprising to see how she felt free and happy and even the guys in the truck looked at her with great sympathy.'
'Sharon is a queen Muxe. [She] lives near a beach, [and] since she was a child, she dreamed of being a mermaid. Maybe that day she didn't have a mermaid tail but it was one of the most liberating days of her life.'
'Carly was in this image eighteen years old, she had a beautiful body and great beauty, she was as beautiful as nature itself. She then decided to dedicate herself to sex work since she wanted to have a better life and have surgery to look like an authentic woman. Three years later they cowardly murdered her in the streets of Oaxaca and the murderers have not yet been found.'
'The portrait is called: Our piety. It was never intentional, we just let things happen and when I reviewed the images I remembered the famous image of piety. Being part of this photo is special since throughout these years of work the muxes have somehow rescued and sheltered me.'
'Angel of the paradise is the title of this image, Barbie is the Muxe that appears here, she was the highest of all in the town. Unfortunately she now she is an angel in heaven, with beautiful wings, exactly like this picture.'
'Long ago I had the strength to express my sexuality, but at the same time this acceptance of my sexual preference has not finished defining me. In my search process I began to develop a relationship of admiration and desire for the Muxes of the Isthmus, where I am also an originator. For several years I have explored his universe, I have entered into his fantasies and gradually I have appeared in the images, little by little I have acceded to his performance.
In this project I now seek to advance in the understanding of my own identity, perhaps dual as well, but still indefinite. My proposal is based on creating self-portraits in which I investigate in my own community environment in Union Hidalgo in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to intervene with my presence, transfigured or transgressive that seeks to explore a sensuality that is between the genders. I seek to explore my own body and its energies using visual and contextual resources such as certain objects, intimate places and a play with light, to produce disturbing or uncomfortable images, in the sense that they question me. I use the language of photography to create and recreate my hidden relationships with Muxe sensuality to discover my own sensuality.
'I wanted to look at those scenes in which the muxes starred in scenes of love and seduction with their lovers in hidden places like the river or in the field. I sought to enter the forbidden of what they do but not say, to explore the interaction and movement of their bodies, their energies using visual and contextual resources, such as certain intimate places, to produce disturbing uncomfortable, but exciting images that at times question ourselves.
'The muxes have many adventures to tell. On one occasion I went with Doris and her friend to the river, we took a lot of beer and we got drunk, we laughed and in the end we took the photos. In my adventures with them I try to enjoy the moment and when something special happens I photograph it and let myself be carried away by the moment.'
'This image is a self-portrait with a stranger who wanted to appear in my photos. It was something strange but exciting at the same time, since different things had to happen to merge with nature.'
About the artist
Nelson Morales was born in Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca. He studied in his town until high school, then moved to the city of Oaxaca to study communication sciences at the José Vasconcelos University (UNIVAS). For nearly eleven years he has devoted himself to photography. His work focuses mainly on sexual diversity and identity.
He has studied different workshops and programs specialising in contemporary photography. He has held several individual and collective exhibitions across the world.
You can find more of his work online: http://nelsonmorales.com.mx/inicio/