Why an issue on queer photography? The going narrative states that, after the culture wars of the early 1990s, we moved into an era in which sexual difference mattered progressively less, when the fight against AIDS no longer defined the gay community, and when same-sex marriage had been approved in many parts of the United States and in a handful of countries around the world.
The last big photobook I bought was Martin Schoeller’s Identical, which must be his most significant work yet. Martin’s hyperrealism proves particularly effective when applied to the subjects of twins and triplets. The act of comparison becomes the main modus of communication between the photographs and the viewer.
This photograph by Lily Healey embeds multiple times and, since hanging it in my hallway, it keeps me thinking. In January 2013, Healey was working toward a final exhibition in the Visual Arts Program at Princeton University. As her adviser, I watched her struggle to sum up two years of work in a concise set of images.
This photograph reminds me of my youth. It was taken in Lochem, in the eastern part of the Netherlands, by Daan van Golden, an artist I’ve known since I was a teenager. I’d wanted it for a long time and then finally bought it two years ago. It hangs in my staircase, in a dark part of the house so that it won’t fade, and I pass it a few times a day.
My wife Shirley took this picture in the Luxembourg Garden, in Paris, more than fifty years ago, shortly after we were married. It’s hanging in our reading room, and I find myself still moved by its powerful emotional effect. Part of it is purely visual: the geometric majesty of the trees contrasting with the explosion of energy created by the children in their school uniforms.
Through her photography, An-My Lê explores the complex relationships between landscape, memory, war, and spectacle. Aperture has published two books of her work: Small Wars (2005), and more recently, Events Ashore (2014). Lê is a professor of photography at Bard College, and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012.
Let’s begin with a useful generalization. During the mid-1970s, Museum of Modern Art photography curator John Szarkowski epitomized photographic orthodoxy at American museums. It was a high-modernist moment: Those sitting in judgment seats appreciated form before content and believed that everything a picture could communicate resided within the picture itself.
Aperture asked Vince Aletti, Richard Meyer, and Catherine Opie to reflect on the term queer and its relationship with photography. The first queer photograph I ever saw excited and confused me. It was at a newsstand in the Jersey Shore town where my family spent the week of my father’s summer vacation, sometime in the late ’50s.
In 1977, San Francisco photographer Hal Fischer produced his photo-text project Gay Semiotics, a seminal examination of the "hanky code" used to signal sexual preferences of cruising gay men in the Castro district of San Francisco.
Three decades ago Joan E. Biren, an American photographer, crisscrossed the country presenting a slide show that told an alternative history of photography, one with lesbians as central protagonists. From 1979 to 1985, American photographer and activist Joan E. Biren (JEB) traveled across the United States and Canada delivering an ever-evolving slide show, Lesbian Images in Photography: 1850-the present, more affectionately known as the "Dyke Show."
Underground publications have long connected queer communities with writing and provocative imagery. How do more recent titles fit within this continuum of independent, sometimes covert, publishing? My first introduction to the world of queer zines was a brief 2001 article I read about BUTT magazine in the iconic but now defunct culture bible, The Face.
What do Sam Wagstaff's recently discovered experimentations with photography reveal about his storied relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and his eye as a collector? Sam Wagstaff, known most conspicuously as the lover, mentor, and patron of Robert Mapplethorpe, was a man of many distinctions: He was one of the earliest photography collectors; he played a seminal role in elevating photography’s status to the realm of fine art; and he was instrumental in establishing the art market for photography (for better or worse).
On the occasion of South African photographer Zanele Muholi's 2014 exhibition Of Love and Loss, at Johannesburg's Stevenson Gallery, a writer for the local Sunday Independent commented that "simply standing in front of Muholi's camera lens is subversive."
Lit by raking color that recalls the strangest drag show you have ever seen, Instant Camera (1980) tells an incredible story. A nude woman holding a camera stands atop a nondescript couch, assuming the pose of an ersatz classical statue. Her curved body, muscles taut in an effort to maintain balance, is echoed by a circular nimbus of angelic light.
The photography, video, and performance works of Lyle Ashton Harris are situated at the intersection of autobiography and historiography. Harris’s work became indispensable to the discourse of identity politics in the United States through his participation in the 1994 landmark Whitney Museum show Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary Art.
One of China’s most distinctive young photographers, Ren Hang makes cool, saturated images that are tightly composed and lit with stark flash. Prominently featuring red lips, black hair, and supple flesh, his photography creates a world where sex, desire, and the joy of voyeurism create a visceral effect.
Exploring what remains of the American landscape—while using an antiquated photographic process that relies on light and chemicals to produce a print—is David Benjamin Sherry’s fool’s errand. Of course, landscape is not disappearing, nor is photography, but both of these "endangered territories" are undergoing acute alteration caused by manic human industry and technological advancement.
In K8 Hardy's Position Series Diptych (Right), 2011, the artist sits on a pile of seaside rubble. Legs spread eagle, she holds a piece of cut melon (or is it two halves of a salmon filet?) in front of her crotch. But this is not all. Superimposed onto this image is another: a close-up of a mannequin head sporting a blonde buzz cut, large round sunglasses, and a headband with the slogan: Feminismo sin mujeres (Feminism without women).
When asked to select a photographer for this "Queer" issue of Aperture, I knew I wanted to introduce someone I had recently discovered. Through my work as a publisher supporting emerging fine-art photographers for the last ten years, while also publishing queer magazines, I have come to know a strong community of queer artists whom I love and have worked with over the years.
Dean Sameshima's art yearns to grab a past era by its tail. Glamorous ghosts from 1970s softand harder-core porn appear in his large-scale, silkscreened canvases of appropriated photographs, organized in series with titles such as Young Men at Play and Cruise or Be Cruised.
A.L. Steiner's standout contribution to the 2010 edition of MoMA PSl's Greater New York exhibition completely engulfed three walls of a natural light-filled room with a dense and raucous patchwork of photographs. Bodies piled on top of bodies—naked, proud, and perverted— posed for the camera.
Following are some facts about Mark Morrisroe. He was born in 1959 in Malden, Massachusetts, son of Patricia, father unknown. He created the punk zine Dirt with his school friend Lynelle White. In 1976 he was shot. He walked with a noticeable limp.
Martina Kubelk's Clothes-Lingerie album, 1988-1995
Little is known about the photographer behind the invented persona Martina Kubelk. Between 1988 and 1995, a man in northern Germany, precise location unrecorded, made upward of 380 self-portraits—mostly Polaroids, though some were made with 35mm camera—of himself dressed in an array of women’s clothing.