Gilleam Trapenberg

“Big Papi”

Masculinity and Representation have long played a part in my work, since these are relevant themes that make up the social landscape in Curacao, an island in the Caribbean where I was born and raised. Curacao is an island of paradoxes. Where the cliche of macho-culture exists alongside strong, independent women and pink coloured skies. Big Papi is a visual research into the image culture of masculinity set against a sunset lit Caribbean landscape. A time of day in which borders are less defined. The stereotypes and clichés associated with macho culture form the starting point for the work, as is the same with most of my former projects. Since the work is greatly personal I am aware that while I am looking critically at the subject matter I am also seducing and romanticising the subjects and landscapes I photograph. I utilise the medium as a tool to investigate the image culture and representation of masculinity in the Caribbean, while also romanticising the landscape in which it exists. These photographs were made in St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, St. Maarten and Curaçao between 2015 and 2017.

The present image culture has always been a critical starting point for my work. While I’m always working on long-term projects the body of work in my projects are essentially conceived as single images. My working process is intuitive as the only substantial research is through the process of photographing and post-production. Although my working process speaks volumes about the current visual culture my work doesn’t solely deal with issues surrounding the medium. Status, stereotypes and visual tropes are often recurring themes within my work. My visual language is a combination of utilising the documentary aesthetic and comments on visual culture.

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