Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Dog book......

Finally, almost completed is my dog portfolio. I've sent the proof off to Blurb and if I'm happy with it, it will be off to the Portfolio makers.....exciting! I guess it's for sale too. Contact me if you'd like to order a copy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Facing You Panel Discussion

Below are some photo's from Sunday's panel discussion.

The panel discussion was great, it was really engaging and interesting. And busy. People who couldn't fit in were lined up outside the venue.

Gemma Rolls-Bentley, co-curator, chaired the panel, and artists/ photographers Ryan Riddington, Jacob Love and Asa Johannesson sat on, along with Damian Owen-Board who teaches Photography and moving image at Goldsmiths, and Fiona Anderson from Kings College London, who specialises in Queer studies and has written about gay cruising culture.

On the front row and also contributing to discussion, we had Liz Helman (who co-curated the exhibition with Gemma), Christa Holka and myself.

Personally I felt like the discussion could have continued for much longer than one hour. I was very engaged and was holding my tongue a lot as to stop myself from interrupting the actual panel.

On a side note, this was interesting for me as originally I didn't want to speak on the panel. My thoughts were that the work should speak for itself rather than having to be explained through discussion.
I also did not want to put myself forward as a speaker on queer and transgender issues as I don't identify that way and am by no means an expert on the subject.

However, after being interviewed recently about my 'Untitled' series, I realised that my comments are relevant and inspire further debate on queer/ transgender imagery.

There is so much to talk about ranging from the politics of the image to the definition of Queer and what makes an image 'Queer'. Also the actual medium of Photography; window on the world or not? Is it a truth, a lie, a manipulation? What lies beyond the frame?

Was a moment captured or created? And if created, is a creation a truth or an opinion?

Who makes the decisions on what to show (photographer, sitter, curator, editor)?
Are they manipulating the reading of a situation through an edit which comes from a preordained idea/ opinion?

How then does what the viewer sees differ from the 'real' situation when you effectively put the subject in a box, framed as the photographer chooses?
Note the word choose, this is always a choice and that decision always belongs to the photographer, effectively making the image in some cases as much about the photographer as the sitter.

If the viewer could see beyond the frame, how different would the reading be?

Then to complicate things further, how does the reading of individual images and different photographer's work change when grouped together in an exhibition such as 'Facing You'?

All the images in 'Facing You', apart from Ryan's, were taken from bodies of work.

Asa normally works with diptyches, putting an image of Jacob, the young transboy next to images of herself and her twin sister when they were young, thereby creating a dialogue between the 2 sets of photographs whilst posing questions about gender and masculinity/ femininity. The work is presented as a full series in a book.

My work is also a full series of studio portraits made into a book called 'Untitled'.

Christa's work image is taken from her series 'I Was There' and Jacob Love's image is taken from a portraiture series shot in an undisclosed location in the USA.

Ryan's piece is the only stand alone image with the title 'Walk', a contemplation of cruising culture, sexual politics and space.

Yet all the images become part of a new series almost when put together as 'Facing You'.

The reading changes as the images, when taken away from their respective series', become initially stand- alone, as it is obvious they were not shot by the same photographer, and then a dialogue between the portraits starts to happen within the exhibition space.

For me it almost becomes about the gaze, the confrontational stare from my image, the looking back over the shoulder of Ryan's, the relaxed friendly happy eyes from Jacob's, the looking away from Asa's and the rawness of Christa's image. The narrative between the photographs, which are facing each other within the space, impacts on the viewer's interpretation of what they see.

And of course the viewer, who came along as a voyeur, has to engage with some of the images (mine and Christa's specifically) when meeting the uncomfortable and perhaps confrontational gaze from portraits which are almost life size.

Something else happens within the narrative as once the viewer see's a 'Queer' signifier, the other images fall into that context.
For example, Jacob's image standing alone would perhaps not be considered a queer image until shown with the others in the exhibition and then it has to relate to the group with which it sits.

This brings us onto safe spaces and if there is such a thing as a safe space. On a wider level The Long White Cloud becomes a safe space for the images to exist on the walls but do the images portray safe spaces?

Jacob's undisclosed forest; is it undisclosed so that it remains safe? Safe from who? Anyone who isn't gay/ queer?

Or is it like the secret island in Alex Garland's novel and feature film 'The Beach' in which the island and its delight's would be ruined if too many people, after discovering the location, flocked there to join the party.
Many tourists seem to be seeking that undiscovered treasure; the deserted beach away from other tourists, yet it always seems that once these places are discovered they become mainstream.
The mystic disappears, commercialism appears, and they become 'ruined'. Is it about keeping the space safe or the people safe?

In a way the same thing sometimes happens with Gay clubs. The club becomes known and everybody, regardless of sexuality, wants to go and before you know it, it's not really a gay club anymore.

Christa's images are taken in gay clubs; safe queer places? But are they? Surely one can feel unsafe, in an insecure way in any space?
What is safe anyway? Safe from the outside world and any potential attack or safe 'to be' yourself and to express yourself (as Madonna once said). Or is safety feeling secure in yourself and at peace with your own identity regardless of external space?

My Untitled series is interested in the way people style and portray themselves, in a sense wearing clothes that make them feel safe and protected.

They are shot in a studio. Is this a safe space?
For some it is, it is a place to express themselves and be who they want to be.
For others, the prospect of a studio shoot is terrifying. Being taken out of their own environment without props leaves them naked......out of their comfort zone, unsafe.

Everybody has their own safe spaces and everybody is different, we can only discuss it.

A local radio station was recording the discussion (NTS - a Dalston station) so hopefully the panel discussion will be online for all to hear sometime soon......

photo by stav b.
photo by stav b.

Facing You opening night

Here are some photo's, courtesy of Stav Bee, from the Facing You Exhibition opening which took place last Thursday evening at The Long White Cloud on Hackney Road.

I am happy to say the opening was packed and people were literally spilling onto the street.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Hanging the Facing You Exhibition

Hanging the Facing You Exhibition at The Long White Cloud on Hackney Road, London. It was a long evening......

Photo's taken by Liz Helman.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Some Press about 'Facing You' exhibition

Below is some recent press about our upcoming 'Facing You' exhibition and a photo of the print unveiling at my house over the weekend.

The Private View is tomorrow, excited!