Queer-ish

 

Queer-ish is a body of work that I began collecting in the early days of eBay. I was spending a lot of time on line looking for images related to my research for Lynching in the West, and started collecting images with a western theme. This was around the same time that the exhibition Dear Friends: American Photography and Male Affection, 1840 -1918 was presented at the ICP in New York. The exhibition description at the time read "This exhibition examines the role of photography in commemorating affection between men in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This installation of highly suggestive and ambiguous photographs demonstrates the extent to which the interpretation of images depends upon shifting social values. Curated by David Deitcher."

The exhibition was groundbreaking because it offered a glimpse of gay male life, and other male relationships, and reflected something that some consider to be a precursor to thinking about identity. My collection also included women, single gender couples, and were mostly collected from second-hand retailers. There was very little information on the sitters, if any. There are reference to gender play,  friendship, and many of these images were clearly performed for the camera,  the photographer, or an imagined audience. As such, these images, claim a certain status as performative acts and depict dressing up, acting out, intimacy. friendship, caring, and just having fun. For me, the images with the wooly chaps represent modern day satyr's, embracing a freedom that was clearly associated with the West as an imaginary. It was a space to act out notions of masculinity, authority, and bodily virulence and was directly linked to the creation of a photographic image. The final few images show how I displayed my photographic images of the work as an installation at Las Cienegas Projects in 2010.

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