Lucky: A Star is Born is an ongoing photo project focused on my best friend, Lucky, that is part documentary, part creative outlet. I started taking pictures of Lucky in 2011 when we first met and started dating (at the time—now I just consider them family, and they are happily engaged to an amazing woman). I document everything in my life quite compulsively, so I would say it started that way, taking diary photos of this person I love. Around 2013 and 2014, Lucky was going through a lot of hardships with their mental health, so I started documenting that journey more closely with the intent to make a photo book about it. In the end, though, I realized that the work wasn’t ready yet. I decided to let it sit for a bit and continue to document them until I was ready to publish a fuller body of work. Since then, we’ve both gone through many transitions in our lives, and I’ve continued to photograph them.
Even though most of my work tends to be conceptual fine art, I’ve always had a strong interest in documentary photography. With this project I really want to blur the lines between the two. At first, my aspiration was to document a gay relationship in a tender, loving way. Then it became about depicting mental illness, and then it became about showing what intersex bodies can look like. Right now I’d say my main motive is to show androgyny in a way that’s not “neutral” but rather the opposite—extreme masculinity mixed with extreme femininity. That’s something we’re both really interested in. Ultimately, I hope the full body of work will show the complexity of identity, all of its layers, our existence as queer, trans, working class, mentally ill, beautiful humans. This work is really about identity as an unstable force. I hope that the series can also shed a light on nonbinary trans bodies and the beauty of existing as everything all at once.
Ting Ting Chen