HIDDEN is a photography project that is certainly not for the sensitive – and I am going to issue a trigger warning now for any victims of domestic abuse or family violence.
We spoke with them about their aspirations for this project, as well as the issues of domestic violence within the LGBTQ+ space, in this exclusive interview.
Pride Life: What inspired you to start this project?
Our goal within our creative business Agent Morphe Design, is to tell people’s stories through inspiring projects that makes a difference in people’s lives. In the past we’ve covered stories about Australia sportswomen in male-dominated sports called Wonder Women Photography Project, and an inspiring short film about a female cyclist, Paralympian called Think Again. This year we wanted to do something a little different, and noticed a huge gap in the representation of the LGBTIQ community within mainstream media about domestic and family violence. That’s why we called it HIDDEN, for one of many reasons.
As members of the community ourselves, we understand that media coverage only representing heterosexual couples in a violent situation, may be difficult to identify with if you’re in a gay relationship, lesbian relationship or non-gender binary relationship. We wanted to get a conversation started so that those within our community could hopefully identify with our project and know that they are validated, and not alone.
PL: Domestic abuse is a very complex and very personal thing, do you think you have managed to convey this in your project?
We certainly hope so. Our goal was to represent the issue in a sensitive manner through a conceptual photography project which means we work with a concept that is born out of individual’s stories (the participants and people we’ve spoken with) however the photographs themselves are not a documentary.
The stories represented in HIDDEN Photography Project are just the tip of the iceberg. Human beings are complex. Relationships are complex. And the stories represented in HIDDEN are just a few of the many types of domestic and family violence that can occur. Domestic and family violence is not just physical abuse, and doesn’t “just” happen within heterosexual relationships. No one is immune to it.
We tried to illustrate the personal and emotional aspects of a relationship where domestic and family violence lives. Because the stories are based on real stories, of either the participants’ or people they knew, or stories we’d heard about, we believe we managed to convey the “realness” of it.
Disclaimer: The participants in this photography project are taking a stance against domestic and family violence, and have NOT necessarily experienced domestic and family violence themselves.
PL: What impact are you hoping this project will have?
We wanted to touch people on an emotional level, by allowing people to identify with the story and emotion in the photograph. We also wanted people in the general community and the LGBTIQ community to gain a better understanding that there are so many different kinds of abuse and violence. Just because you don’t see it, it doesn’t mean that it’s not happening, particularly when it’s hard to identify within relationships in the LGBTIQ community.
PL: How much do you think LGBT people suffer from domestic abuse?
From our understanding, it is very prevalent. Click the link below for a image showing statistics for domestic violence in Australia.
According to information we’ve read, because domestic and family violence is not easy to identify in LGBTIQ relationships, it’s not often spoken about and therefore not recognised even by the individuals who are experiencing it.
PL: Domestic abuse is something that effect 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men, what do you think we need to do to combat it?
We think education is very important in combating this issue. If people understand that what they are doing is not OK, or what they are experiencing is not OK, then they can seek help and work through it, and make a change. It’s important to state here that we are not counselors nor have the ability to speak about professional help. We are a member of the community and want to contribute our part through what we do, in a creative way, to tell stories so that it can send a message, evoke emotion and hopefully help other people.
PL: Agent Morphe Design has won quite a few awards, what do you have your sights set on next?
We’d like to continue working on inspiring projects, particularly with groundbreaking, trailblazer women to inspire more women and people in general. As a photographer, Maya’s passion is to continually grow as a creative, and challenge herself with different types of projects she chooses to embark on. She’s a humanitarian with a camera in her hand. She loves to tell people’s stories in the light they deserve to be told.
Our door is open for opportunities and collaborations and we’re excited about whatever adventure comes next.
PL: Can you tell us anything about your future projects?
In the immediate future, we’re about to be a part of media witnessing the Open Workout of the four female fighters here in Melbourne for UFC 193, including Ronda Rousey and Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Ronda is an inspiration to many women, including ourselves, and has become a true role model for girls and women in sport.
We are currently finishing a Street Photography Project called PROJECT23, in collaboration with FujiFilm Australia. It is a showcase of 23 photographs of Street Photography over a period of 23 weeks, which started in July 2015. Each week we share the latest photograph on Instagram and Facebook.
Besides that, we are currently working on something pretty amazing, but there’s a lot of moving parts on this project — so we can’t really say what it is yet, as everything is still slowly in the works. But please do follow us on our social media channels (Facebook: AgentMorpheDesign, Twitter: AgentMorphe, and Instagram: mayasugihartophotography) to keep up to date with what we do.
PL: And finally, what are your hopes for the future of the LGBT community?
We hope for equality.