Having grown up in a patriarchal and traditional village in the south of France, I had to follow certain codes and rules in order to become “a man”. I couldn’t embrace my identity freely… hiding and performing myself most of the time. Closeted, alone and living a secret life for many years, I was scared to be judged by my sexuality.
Chameleon is a photographic series about hiding and revealing. This duality becomes a metaphor of the little lizard that hides itself in plain sight. It is a narrative exploring masculinities and spaces beside the heteronormative structure. The still frame evokes the love, hope and fear of people who exist outside these constructs that can be suffocating. I create my images through evocations of the personal and collective experiences of my community. By using masks, fabrics, accessories and composing with colours, shapes, shadows ; I question the performative / camouflage aspects of our lives. My images are staged to create visual metaphors and specific statements which form part of global visual and political activism. I am equally engaged in celebrating as well as illustrating the diversity of masculinities.
This camouflage ability is an expression of how I seek to open up dialogue about those of us who live but do not fit the conventional moulds constructed by heteronormativity. The series is confronting our societies in a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under attack in many different places in the world. My work aims to encourage queer people to show themselves and be proud of who they are.
Ugo Woatzi (b,1991 France) is a queer photographer and visual artist based in Brussels. He completed the Intermediate Course at The Market Photo Workshop of Johannesburg in 2016 and holds a BA in Sociology & a MA Visual Art Photography from LUCA School of Arts Brussels 2019. Ugo Woatzi’s photographs reference spaces both real and imagined, caught between worlds of freedom and restriction. He reveals and yet conceals, like a chameleon hiding, blending and adapting – as a means of survival and preservation.
Ugo has participated in a number of group exhibitions, and his work has been featured in several publications and magazines. He has been selected for the 2021 .TIFF program by FOMU Antwerp, was shortlisted for the 2020 CAP Prize in Basel, and won 2nd Prize of the 2019 Pride Photo Award in Amsterdam.