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1.I met Abdul with his ballerina dress. Extract from 'I am Your Mirror' photography project

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

Extract from 'I am your Mirror' photography Book by Loredana Denicola

I placed an ad on the Internet, and Abdul sent me an email, expressing his interest in taking part in my photography project called "I am your Mirror".

I aimed to photograph myself alongside twelve strangers whom I would discover through the Internet. These strangers, unpaid, would have the freedom to choose a time and location to be photographed.

I am your mirror - ballerina
Abdul, like Jane Fonda | I am your Mirror | © Loredana Denicola

Abdul and I decided to meet at Spitalfields Market to introduce ourselves, an opportunity for him to get to know me better.

I remember his tiny figure approaching me, seemingly fragile and his voice, so sweet. He confided in me about his dream - to dress up as a ballerina and be lifted by a strong, dominant female wrestler. I scoured London in search of a dominant female wrestler, visiting wresting gyms, but I couldn’t find her. Abdul was disappointed.

Our conversation delved into his life. At that time, he was studying in London. He shared that he owned a pink ballerina dress and a yellow and black leotard. I remember that day so vividly. He came to visit me at my flat, carrying a large black plastic bag filled with colourful clothes purchased from Chinese shops. Since we couldn't use his place, we had to utilise my communal garden located downstairs.

His wife knows nothing about his dreams, which he believed she wouldn't understand. Sometimes, he enjoyed dressing up at night while she slept , playing in front of a mirror, and taking selfies. I found it fascinated that even now, we continue to wear masks with those closest to us in our lives - be it a spouse, friends, sibling - due to fear of judgement or rejection, lacking the courage to be our authentic selves. I experienced this myself numerous times with my parents during my teenage years. To be accepted, I had to lie because they couldn't accept the truth of who I was. For many years, I wore a mask that wasn't truly mine, and I acted in ways that pleased them, while deep inside, I remained unhappy.

I choose to collaborate with strangers because it can be easier to drop one's guard with someone unfamiliar, without the emotional attachment or possessiveness that often comes with relationships.
Meeting a stranger without knowing what will happen can be a frightening experience as well as enlightening one ....

I didn’t plan the photoshoot with Abdul; I wanted everything to be spontaneous. I wanted to play with him, like two children. I used an old 35mm camera loaded with a black and white film, borrowed from a friend.

At the end, I realised that a planned photoshoot would have been amazing, even more fashionable.

The colourful clothes he brought in that black plastic garbage bag would have been ideal for colour or transparency film. however, my intention was to capture strangers in the present moment, and the present id singular. I required only one vital element: human connection.

Abdul is Muslim, married, with children. He loves Jane Fonda and harbours a desire to experience domination.

... to be continued ...

by Loredana Denicola

"Behind the Lens: A Photographic Journey with Strangers"

Short stories from the photography project: "I am your mirror" by Loredana Denicola © 2017/2018, All rights reserved.

I'd love to create a book! If interested email me to loredana denicola


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