Eva Zar & drag artist Rify Royalty on colliding worlds & becoming friends

The photographer and performer discuss how their art brought them together, and reveal a new collaboration.

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Follow Eva Zar‘s work and you’ll instantly realise she spends a lot of time in other people’s worlds. Whether it’s capturing the club kids in NYC or peeking into the bedrooms of her friends, what makes Eva’s work unique is the ability to portray intimate moments without the feeling of voyeurism and intrusion. In her latest work, she photographs her friend and performance artist Rify Royalty in Riverside Park in Manhattan, dressed royally in a golden headdress by costume designer Diego Montoya. Here the two friends discuss how their friendship developed through the meeting of the realms of performance and observation.

Notion: How did you both meet?
Rify Royalty: I first met Eva at Ludlow House for Love Baileys ‘Slather Cabaret’.
Eva Zar: I was covering it for Hunger magazine.

What were your first impressions of each other?
Rify: My first impression of Eva was that I thought she was creative and had an eye for photography, but it wasn’t until she sent me some of the photos she took that night that made me really want to collaborate with her.
Eva: I saw Rify on stage at Slather Cabaret, and he was wearing this amazing yellow silk/fur coat, performing and obviously I fell in love. I took a photograph of him during this performance which eventually ended up at Foley Gallery during my Keith Haring x The Impossible Project collaboration.

Rify, your work is the performance, sometimes taking on scenes from films and reworking them for a new audience. Eva, on the other hand, your work often captures the moments between performances; the fragile, unposed. How has your art evolved over the years?
Rify: My performances over the years have definitely evolved because people evolve. Energy changes and therefore the way you feel is going to change. I think I’m much more focused on specific numbers and performing them numerous times and figuring out what works and what doesn’t.
Eva: I think, as Rify says, people always evolve — especially the ones in our scene — you have to keep the ball rolling all the time. Our work collides because one doesn’t exist without the other. On the one hand, performing without anybody having to capture it in our times isn’t possible anymore, but on the other side, I as a photographer would be bored any may be unemployed if I wouldn’t be photographing people like Rify.

Can you talk about the evolution of the Straight Acting parties you throw?
Rify: Straight Acting is growing, and people love being a part of the experience. It’s a popular party, and everyone usually comes out. Club kids, drag queens, locals, visitors, etc. The dress code is usually “gender bendy” – lots of boys in fishnets and heels; it’s like their one time a month to fag out! But you can wear whatever. We won’t judge.

Eva, your work often involves documentary photography. What attracts you to a person or scene?
Eva: I think, there is not a particular reason why I’m attracted to one person — the entire scene is incredibly inspiring. A lot of people within the scene don’t get the credit for what they do and instead, huge magazines and brands just steal their stuff and pretend it’s theirs. Most of the time I’m amazed by people who create a fantasy around themselves; they’re able to play a role they jump into better than most Hollywood celebrities you will ever know.

Can you both talk about the photos you have shot for Notion?
Rify: The photos I took with Eva were very much inspired by the quality of her analogue photography. I loved it and wanted to work in an editorial element. I also thought choosing Riverside Park would lend itself to some of the magic we were trying to create together.
Eva: We just wanted to recreate a typical Upper West Side wifey that goes to Riverside Park on a Sunday and just lives her life like that. I love that Rify is not a typical femme queen, which gives our editorial a nice contrast.

All photos of Rify Royalty by Eva Zar. Find more of Eva Zar’s work on her website.
Phie McKenzie is on Twitter.

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