Check out this amazing photography project of transgender women in Peru – Virgenes de la Puerta / Virgins of the Door. They’re trying to raise $40,000 on Kickstarter and they need your help!
Boston-based artists Andrew Mroczek and Juan Barboza-Gubo have been documenting the plight of Peru’s mercurial transgender community for the past several months. As part of their ambitious project called Virgenes de la Puerta (“Virgins of the Door”), Mroczek and Barboza-Gubo are photographing several transgender women — many of whom have never been photographed in a positive, respectful way — in order to present them as honored role models, examples of leadership in the country’s burgeoning transgender pride movement. “We want to show the trans community that there are these amazing pillars who represent their interests,” Mroczek explains, “and that there are those who are willing to sacrifice their own personal safety in order to gain the visibility needed to promote change.”
Virgenes de la Puerta / Virgins of the Door: Photographs by Juan Jose Barboza-Gubo & Andrew Mroczek
The series Virgenes de la Puerta focuses on the transgender women of Lima, who continue to be cast aside by the political and religious administrations. They are often denied employment, assistance from government programs, and not given any state or government-issued forms of identification; in essence, they are being marginalized and erased.
We honor the diversity of the Peruvian culture by re-incorporating transgender women into the cultural landscape and history of Peru. In direct contrast to their oppressor’s intentions, the work celebrates the contributions made by transgender people and presents them as iconic figures within the context of their native land. These photographs pay homage to the resilience and beauty of these women in an effort to strengthen, empower, and embed a sense of pride within the current and future generations of Peru’s LGBTQ community.
One of the goals of Virgenes de la Puerta is to produce powerful renderings of proud community leaders like Maricielo (top pic) and Gaby (directly above), to honor them in a way that has never been done before. The project goes beyond just crafting inspirational portraits, however: Mroczek and Barboza-Gubo are cleverly incorporating examples of religious and cultural iconography into their photographs, adorning all of the women with crowns, capes and other artifacts styled after those used in traditional Peruvian ceremonies. In doing so, Mroczek and Barboza-Gubo portray these women as cultural symbols of hope, much like the image of the Virgin Mary was a symbol of hope to the people of Otuzco.
“When we conceptualize these images, we’re trying to link these beautiful women to the iconography of Peru,” Barboza-Gubo explains. “We hope they’ll start to see themselves as cultural icons, often for the first time in their lives.”
“There are some amazing leaders within the transgender community who are actively promoting change,” Mroczek says. “We want to honor those people, but we also want to empower all transgender Peruvians to become pillars of their community, and we’re honored to be a part of that progress.”
“We can’t fight their battles for them,” he concludes, “but we can help empower them to continue to fight for themselves.”
The Virgenes de la Puerta project is assisted by grants from Lesley University and Rhode Island College, but is largely self-funded by the artists. For more information about the project or to make a donation towards its completion, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/virgenes/virgenes-de-la-puerta.