When Yasmin first tells me about Landyn Pan, I don’t immediately think about his work. I don’t think about his hefty stack of accolades, his gender politics, or even about his clean fashion sense. Instead, I think about his skin, and how he is also trans. I think thank God I found a brother. To me, Landyn Pan is more than an artist. He is an island I have found after swimming for years in a pale, open sea.
LP: I am really into playing with fashion and androgyny. As a trans man, after going through hormones and surgery, society sees you as fixed. Society tells you “hey, it's time for you to conform.” Naturally, I'm like no. I'm going to put up a fight.
The idea behind these photographs was impromptu. I was borrowing some clothes from a female friend when I saw a traditional Chinese shirt. So I brought up the idea to Tessa [my friend who was also in the shoot with me] what if I were to mix Western and Eastern clothes, in addition to masculine and feminine styles. We put together the outfits on the spots at the shooting location. While shooting, I had a lot of thoughts and emotions running through my mind, and it was really powerful to see us in those clothes. This empowerment was what inspired the caption in my post.
We know that fashion is a huge statement, and we're familiar with clothes as a statement about sexuality. But we don't see it used as a statement about growing up in multicultural environments. We don't see it used to narrate stories of trying to survive in two cultures at once. That's why it was so cool to me.
To what timbre were these emotions felt? Did you also feel a sense of loss in regards to this sort of diaspora? Or was it overwhelmingly an empowering experience?
LP: Initially, I did feel loss. I thought about how Western clothes have influenced a lot of East Asian culture, like suits and ties, a traditionally Western ensemble. To wear a mixture of these cultures felt very authentic. I had never expressed myself in that way before. I've only thought of fashion in the context of gender and sexuality. Using it in this new way to express multiculturalism was probably what brought out these powerful feelings.
Speaking of fashion, there was a great picture you did with “FABRIC HAS NO GENDER” written on a blackboard. What are some general thoughts you have on androgynous fashion, and the implications it has on the gay community? Especially for the gay POC community. Do you like where it’s headed?