Billy Maynard's pictures aren't entirely about what even he would like you to believe; the prostitution, the sex, the drugs, the poverty, the fight for life and being on the margins of a new country's society. Let's be straight. The photographs in this work are first and foremost about Billy himself, they reveal a young man forcing himself out of the world he knows, the world which has raised and sustained him and which now he can no longer accept as his entirety. Flung into another world, a world where he finds new friends and relationships, where he finds a lover who teaches him about life and about what it means to be alive, it is here that Billy is stripped of all the comforts of home and is forced to move forward. “It was like - school sucks, get new clothes, let's go skate, let's paint, where’s the wine, trying new things - nothing works. I stepped off the plane and into a slipstream in East Timor.” Billy is not merely open to new experiences in Timor, in essence, he needs them. He needs Peppe his girl and he needs this in his life right here, right now. Billy knows that he is not in control. That no one with sensibilities ever is.
Trans/Tender, made in the poor neighbourhoods of Timor Leste, is a work that deals with Billy Maynard's place in the world at a certain time. He was accepted into a group of friends whose struggle for self identity is one that he can fully identify with. It makes no difference that Billy's struggle is a middle class struggle. They are one and the same, and the fact that Billy has found himself within this group is not an act of selfishness or desire to photograph from the margins for shock value. Billy finds his pictures where he finds himself, where he is comfortable, where he is free, where he is honest. From what I know of him though, it is enough to ascertain that what he is doing with photography is different to the majority of people working with in the medium, Billy is working with an integrity and a personal confidence that many photographers never reach, let alone by the tender age of 19.
All photography by nature is self portraiture and there is no better example of this idiom than the work presented here inTrans/Tender. For what we see in this work is about Billy and his transition from a boy to a man, a self-initiation that seeks to explore his own personal boundaries. What makes this work so special is Billy's awareness of the temporal state of being and that he could only have made this work during this time in his life.
Excerpt from the Trans/Tender catalogue essay by Sean Davey.
Billy Maynard Trans/Tender
Damien Minton Gallery, Sydney, May 21 to 28 2011