Agata Kay is a trained dancer and physical theater performer. She studied theology and philosophy at King’s College in London as well as art history at The New School in New York. Between 2015 and 2018, she staged over 40 unique guerrilla performances in underground spaces in London, Paris, Berlin, and Lyon solo or with a drag collective, House of Health, that she co-founded.
She took a break from her performance practice after recognizing it as too destructive and violent. She is protagonist of a documentary fiction film Trip by Leslie Lynch and Geoffrey Cochard that explores the Parisian queer party scene. Agata collaborated with many photographers, but most extensively with Bieke Depoorter, contributing a large portion of her writings to the project.
In October 2017, Bieke Depoorter met Agata Kay in a strip club in Paris. In describing her project, Agata, Depoorter has said that she and Agata dove deep into a collaboration, creating a small alternate universe that served as a container for themus to explore questions that they each had regarding identity, performance, and representation. Who was the true author of these images? Who was the true subject? Who was Agata? This project is both a story of a young woman searching for her identity and the story of Depoorter experimenting with the fragility of photographic authorship.
Most of all, it is the product of the photographer and the subject consciously agreeing to “use each other.” Agata, the book, intertwines narratives, which are threaded via a combination of images, letters, and notes, but what defines the dialogue between Agat Kay and Bieke Depoorter is the ever-present reflex of self-awareness and self-reflection. The contents are laid out chronologically and the book is constructed as a French fold, with perforations on the edges of folded pages. This provides the reader with the choice of whether or not to tear open the pages and see a story that is hidden, which through Kays contribution expands and questions the narrative Depoorter originally intended to present.
The result is a project that never lands on any sort of conclusive truth, instead highlighting the slippery nature of truth in situations where power, responsibility, and control are in a constant state of flux.
Agata © Bieke Depoorter / Magnum Photos
Museu Municipal Amadeo Souza-Cardoso