Having used ambiguity in specific projects in the past I think it is a very valid and interesting ploy to bring in to any project you are working on. An image that raises questions is an image that stays in the mind with intrigue and is less likely to be glossed-over as just part of the background noise of images we encounter on a daily basis.For this specific project I am working with representations of masculinity in particular regard to queer identity. Exploring why the dictionary definition of GAY (insert jazz hands!) does not always apply. With themes such as shyness, loneliness, depression, aging, homophobia (both actual and perceived), body image and the Cult Of Beauty. Working in collaboration with my ‘models’ in the safe space of my studio to create a negotiated contract between photographer and model in these naked situations. By using my ability as part of the minority to overcome the politics of representing ‘the other’ in an attempt to de-exoticize The Queer. Creating images that are shockingly banal to prove that we are not the monsters in the closet !
There is a rich tradition of Queer art and photography ranging from the pornographic through to the merely erotic to the violently anarchic protest – some of which combines all these in one representation. I am by nature shy and introverted so I speak with my lens what I am too shy to say. This can be a valid and just form of protest in itself – sometimes the whisper and velvet subversion can change more than blood and fire demonstrations.
My chosen medium for representation is Polaroid. Hanging on the coat-tails of such luminaries as David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethopre (of course), Chuck Close, Richard Hamilton but most influential for me – Lucas Samaras. All these artists took this vernacular consumer-oriented format and created vastly differing but equally thought provoking bodies of work. Using the dichotomy of shame vs pride I ask my models to pose in the form of a shop mannequin in order to bring attention to the absurdity of the unrealistic body types fashion dictates we should emulate. The Polaroid medium with it’s colour cast and soft-focus brings a gentle affection and humour to what are deliberately unflattering images. The nude male is still a taboo so I am poking at the comfort levels of the viewers in order to reflect the awkwardness these models experience in many day to day situations when they may be uncomfortable revealing their sexuality. By asking them to deface the Polaroid by masking in some form they take back control of their representation and can be reassured of anonymity so their public face can not be exposed in the way they exposed their private body for my camera. This collaborative project produces performative, unique precious mixed-media objects that also explore the difference between the naked and the nude.