Portraits that capture the magic of being intersex
On Intersex Awareness Day, Dani Coyle presents a tender new series.
The people that occupy the lens of artist and photographer Dani Coyle in their ongoing series, Inter_face, are bound together by one trait. Like Dani, they’re intersex, but their series endeavours to show that that characteristic does not shape people as a whole. Still, their abundance here feels rare. So often, intersex folks are, as Dani calls it, “dispersed”; their presence in society and in art sporadic and underseen. What Dani plans to do is create a community that propels them into a new, more understanding spotlight.
The series had less lofty ambitions in the beginning. “Initially, I just wanted to meet with other intersex people, hear about their stories and find community or connection,” they say. “Taking the picture of those I met felt like the most honest, raw and accessible way of documenting these experiences.” Now, its purpose is to “humanise and depathologise the discourse” surrounding intersex people, their bodies and their issues. Even Dani’s wider work -- they are a model, too, and are currently studying for a masters in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Oxford University -- all returns to that central focus.
If the scarce, previous interpretations of intersex folk in art and culture made anatomy a hyperfocus, then Dani’s pictures do the opposite. They are simple, striking portraits of people they have encountered, livelihoods and stories that prevail over the constricting definition of gender and bodies. As a result, Dani doesn’t see the pictures they’ve taken purely as pictures, “because every time I look at one of my images, I see the hours I spent with that person -- what we were talking about when I released the shutter; the feeling of meeting a stranger with a shared experience, who, although you don’t know, you already care for.”
Aware of the power storytelling can have, Dani is launching a podcast series titled Inter_view to explore these stories in deeper detail with special guests like model Hanne Gaby Odiele, artist River Gallo, and intersex culture consultant Valentino Vecchietti. It’s Dani’s hope that this series, and their wider work, reframe our understanding of intersex people; “that people see that we aren’t mythical creatures, just magical humans.”
Photography Dani Coyle