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2021 SPE Annual Conference: Imagining Legacy: Archives, Collections, and Memoria

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Rana Young

The Rug’s Topography

Friday, October 07 - 9:30AM to 9:50AM
Lindell Room A - Chase Park Plaza

I intend to discuss and provide a visual analysis for my on-going thesis work, The Rug’s Topography, which began with me photographing my intimate partner of six years, staging him as a conduit for my own fears and insecurities. These anxieties arose in response to distance widening within our shared private space. You could say we were growing apart romantically while we were growing up together. We were coming to terms with what roles we served in our relationship based on gender-normative examples from our upbringings. When my partner revealed his internal struggle with expected gender roles, I started to re-evaluate the expectations that I had projected onto him. We ultimately determined we had compromised beyond our comfort zones resulting in a mutual acceptance that the context of our relationship could change, but our emotional intimacy did not have to be sacrificed.


The staged portraits and ambient photographs create a cyclical narrative capturing the push-pull through the liminal space between the performative self and the expected self and serve as my reflections on the trajectory and circumstances within our relationship, past and present. The vantage point allows access into the private domain to witness the madness of self-discovery. The ebbs and flows of growth redefining identity are highlighted through themes of intimacy, transition, and introspection within the home.

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Rana Young
Rana Young

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