Diana Blok on sexual diversity

Blogathon 2

During the festival the Noorderlicht blog is hosting bite-size interviews with participating photographers about their work. We asked photographers to share their thoughts on how their own projects reflects on the festival theme, and to tell more about their personal engagement with their subjects. All interviews are conducted by Hester Keijser. Today, Diana Blok speaks about what drove her to make the work 'I dare you to love me'.

Noorderlicht: Could you say in what sense your project relates to the overall festival theme, from a personal point of view? Where in this bigger picture do you feel your work fits in?

Diana Blok: My project ‘eu te desafio a me amar’ / ‘I dare you to love me’ is about sexual diversity. Human beings have a wide selection of sexual identities from which to choose, as does natural life in the plant and animal world. Other choices than the heterosexual lifestyle are discriminated against in most countries worldwide. This project is based in Brazil where the conceptions regarding sexuality, physicality and sensuality are generally understood to be quite open and free. In reality the opposite is true. Brazil is a conservative society which sells, if you wish, the image of samba and sensuality. Crime and violence against LGBTT indiviuals has tripled in the past three years. As fundamentalist Evangelists increase in number, so does the discrimination.

I think that we need to remain conscious that being close, staying close to one another is essential in this process. The need for a more communal life where caring and sharing are a way of life is what many individuals are longing for in this individualistic society. The conglomerations in cities and immediate access to information in excess is creating a greater degree of loneliness even though we live in crowded cities.

Noorderlicht: Based on your experience working with different communities and individuals who are affected by this 'crisis of agency', what impression did you get about the likelihood that common people can regain such a sense of agency? Do you feel there are grounds for a realistic hope for improvements?

Diana Blok: Honestly I think things will get worse before getting better. The care for nature is not taken seriously, but neither is the care of the neighbor, the elders, the sick. Too much eagerness to maintain a decent living in a a plante where few are becoming wealthy at the cost of many. Personally I try to keep my life as simple and possible, and I feel the need to share more intimately with others. This is also not an easy process.

Noorderlicht: The general public, that old and perhaps mythical darling, has by now fractured and reorganized itself in different special interest groups, aligned according to other parameters than shared nationality, language, culture, age or religion. One of the hardest things nowadays is to reach out across these different interests groups - beyond and outside the photo community.

What is the audience that you'd hope would look at your project / series? Who should see this work?

Diana Blok: Personally I do not find it so difficult to reach out to other cultures, languages, skin colours, sexual identities. On the contrary, it it a very enriching experience to be able to live this. I am aware though that it is as threat for many individuals, political groups and religions. There is no way back so, sooner or later, even though it will take many years all human beings will eventually merge into that ocean full of essential life.

I would like to reach an audience as broad as possible. Discrimination was suffered by all the participants of my project, whether from the favela or from the academic life. Rich or poor, every indiviual struggled to accept their identity and be courageous enough to participate in this project where their souls are naked and open to receive the public eye. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to create this ‘ family’ of very diverse human beings made up from all the colors of the rainbow. Sexual identity and orientation are not static, they are in themselves fluid. Rigidity belongs to the mind, not to the heart nor the senses.