(please click through for a larger view!)
As we are is an intimate dialogue with members of Scotland's gender and sexual minorities, dealing with themes of visibility, (self)representation, identity and empowerment. The series combines techniques of traditional portraiture with a shifting in power from the photographer to the participants, whereupon ultimate control of the camera's shutter is relinquished to the sitters in front of the lens via a cable release. This gesture is informed by the understanding of how important it is for artists and documentary makers to approach non-mainstream representation from a place of equal footing; collaborating, rather than assuming an outside, superior authority over the actual persons portrayed. In addition to physically taking the images, the volunteers have also handwritten their own statements, loosely based on the notion of 'who they are' to accompany their portraits.
The series is one of looking back. We are here and we are queer, taking a stand by showing ourselves as we are – vulnerable, hands open, lionhearted. We are creeping from the shadows to the sunlight, burning down the circus tents and stepping on their charred platforms to speak with our own, true voices. The battle to end gender-based inequality is a battle to end invisibility, to be rightly recognised and unquestioned in courthouses, in the emergency room, in the bathroom of the local library, at a son's first ballet recital, at our own wedding receptions. It is the right to be valid and accepted, and it is the right to be worthy of love. No amount of theory, philosophy or science can ever truly pinpoint what it means to be us, human, in all our gloriously nuanced and confusing ways - but neither does it have to.
What matters is to be seen.
So here it is; my final project as an undergraduate. It received the Helen A. Rose Bequest Award for Distinguished Work in May and was shown both at the Edinburgh College of Art Degree Show 2013 as well as the Free Range Art & Design Show in Brick Lane, London. There has been talk of it going on show in the new building of the Chalmers Sexual Health Centre in Edinburgh - more to follow on that later!
Missing still are two images of Mark and Marcus, though by sheer coincidence I managed to bump into Mark in a bar last week and he gave me his handwritten statement on a pub napkin. How awesome is that!
I have high hopes for this project to continue once I have all the equipment necessary. I'd be happy to hear from anyone still wanting to take part! :)