JJ Levine “Queer Portraits” 2006- still in progress
Queer Portraits is an ongoing series of large-scale colour photographs of my community in Montreal. This project captures the complex emotional relationships that I have with my friends, lovers, and siblings. My work explores issues surrounding gender, sexuality, and queer space. Each portrait is taken in a different domestic setting, characterized by saturated colours, and often discursive backgrounds. Using professional lighting and a medium format film camera, I create a studio within each home environment, and intentionally place every piece of furniture and object that appears within the frame. These settings are intended to raise questions regarding private queer space as a realm for the development of community and the expression of genders and sexualities that are often marginalized within the public sphere. I am also interested in exploring the relationship between photographer and subject. My work exposes the strong element of trust that exists between myself and my friends as they appear in each photograph. Through these portraits of queer and trans people in my life, I explore my own identity as a genderqueer artist. I am interested in expressing fierceness, beauty, and resistance through the confrontational gaze of my subjects and our collective cultural aesthetic. This goal underlies the intent of this photographic series, and my work as a whole.