Aged just twelve Alejandro Cabezut picked up a camera and never looked back. From Mexico, in Monterrey, he moved to the US in Texas and now resides in New York City. Alejandro Cabezut uses his bicultural identity and an intricate tapestry of fashion, culture and emotion to create his narrative. Resulting in a pictorial symphony of real beauty, avant-garde scenes and boundless love/friendship.
The need not to be stagnant inspires his pieces and pushes Cabezut to be the best version of himself - personally and professionally. His images embody a multidimensional space where a variety of thoughts and ideas coexist. From deconstructing euro-centric beauty standards and carving a space to show the diverse beauty paradigm within trans and non-binary communities. Leaving the labelled boxes behind putting those who do not “pass” or those who do not ascribe to conventional standards of the binary at the forefront of his work. Representation and visibility are a prominent discussion and common thread throughout his work. We talk to Cabezut about his photography projects, defying boundaries, how to create a safe space on set and the power of identity.
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What draws you to the art of photography?
What draws me the most is the collaborative aspect! There’s nothing quite as magical as being able to create imagery with unbelievably talented people that are masterful and passionate about what they do and to be able to genuinely call them friends.
Images tell stories, they have many layers, just like music or other creative forms. What narrative do you want to express with your work?
I want my work to be a space where people can dream. On set I always strive to have a celebratory mood, create a safe and exciting environment where we all feel safe and welcome to create fantasies. I never lose sight of how unbelievably lucky it is to work in image-making, and whenever I’m on set I can’t help but to feel fortunate. These emotions of optimism, togetherness, festivity, drive the narratives of what I create.
What is your creative process when fostering new concepts?
Ever since I was a young kid I’ve always been an avid devourer of all things aesthetic. For me, referencing art that has struck me is akin to being a part of a conversation, albeit with art rather than with words. There is a great deal of research required to create a fully-fledged concept. I approach my photographic concepts by embedding ideas, nods, and homages for personal enjoyment. The first step in making good work is making something you’d enjoy yourself!
How do you feel your photographs approach culture, emotion and fashion?
The themes I continually return to are my Mexican heritage, the politics of identity, and the complexly messy beauty of interpersonal relationships. Family—real or chosen—friendships, lovers…Especially now, in a time when we’ve been compelled to put our relationships on pause for the world’s health, it feels ever so more urgent to celebrate people, in every way, shape, and form we may exist. And, of course, a hint of colour, a dash of drama, and a splash of chic never hurt.
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You just photographed a project, called Nuestro Rinconcito del Cielo, whilst visiting Mexico. It features a beautifully brave group of trans women and non-binary individuals defying the country’s conservative mindset through visibility. This series documents how identity is understood through imagery. How do you think this project deconstructs stereotypes and creates diversity within cinematic and photographic stages?
We now live in a world that’s being challenged to think about diversity. While a great deal of us exalt it, it’s sometimes easy to forget how different things were when we were growing up.
You know, how the definition of beauty was so narrow. Tall? Blonde? Thin? You know the type. Actually, in many instances, this continues to be the beauty standard, but thankfully some people are moving on. In any case, the goal of this project was to carve a space to show the diverse beauty paradigm within trans and non-binary bodies and communities. There is a societal pressure put on trans women and non-binary people, that puts them into boxes that fit societal constructs and leaving those who do not “pass” or those who do not ascribe to conventional standards of the binary behind. I wanted to challenge this notion by celebrating, in a beautiful and uplifting way, a wide array of queer beauty; especially those often overlooked even by those who consider themselves queer advocates. As image-makers, we have a privilege and, arguably, a duty to take a stand with what we create.
You did another project, House of Mamis, although it was a house way back, now it stands as a symbol of love, expression and family. Although the LGBTQ+ nightlife is blossoming in Mexico City, queer representation is still lacking within mainstream culture, as Mexico still sees a lot of ‘machismo’ and religious conservatism, which isn’t exactly a queer oasis. How do you think projects like House of Mamis help queer bodies in and around Mexico?
Visibility is the first step in the fight for inclusion. Mexico, just like the rest of the world, has a long way to go in acknowledging, including, and celebrating rather than marginalising communities that don’t fit in the mainstream paradigm.
There is intrinsic bravery in going against the grain, and subjects with weight can be a complex undertaking. My greatest desire is to make people feel seen, appreciated, and safe to be themselves. The pearl clutchers can all go f* themselves too.
As a photographer, you have a lot of power being behind the photographic frame. How do you make sure to create a safe environment when on the job?
Making people feel included. Make people feel like they have a say, a voice in what they’re being a part of. It’s always a collaboration, and a shoot day should always be a day of enjoyment. Also, you've got to have snacks, coffee and chocolates!
Do you think the way you see and define beauty through your work challenges people?
I think it’s not about challenging, but rather inviting people to see beauty in a different way. To see beauty in something or someone that they hadn’t before. It’s all about finding the beauty where others seldom look and providing the channel for them to see it too. Artists that let you in on their secret, let you peek into their world while holding it in your hand—they’re the most inspirational.
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