Disruption | Summer 2018
Juror: Claire A. Warden, July 2018 Artist Resident
“If I wait for someone else to to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.” - Zanele Muholi
In a society that favors masculine constructs supporting capitalism, whiteness, and cis-hetero supremacy, LGBTQIA+ communities are often misunderstood and misrepresented, with queerness being seen as a threat to mainstream culture. While laws and media attention of queer representation have seen drastic changes within the past decade, attitudes concerning these marginalized communities tend to experience a slower rate of acceptance.
In Open Call: Disruption, we’re seeking a photographic exploration that challenges not only mainstream cis-hetero culture, but expands on the current visual and verbal lexicon of popular queer culture.
Chris M. McGuire
"The disabled body within photography is a disruption with a history of medical scrutiny, sympathetic charity, and spiteful inspiration. These pervasive photographic modes are an attempted reconciliation of the distinct humanity of disability. I am working to find an alternative that is that is in dialog with this dynamic. Bringing queer and disabled identity together looking at where these identities intersect along with their paradoxes.
The camera serves a dual purpose in my practice: It is both society’s gaze and my own, a tool to examine the tension between my corporeal self and my photographic self. I perform for the camera while examining myself as a fetish object, a symbol, and whole individual. I acknowledge my disability. I recognize my status as an outsider. Through my work I reclaim my own image and subvert societal perceptions of the disabled body. I challenge and deconstruct these classifications by queering the established representations of disability. I explore the roles of Adonis, the inadequate stud, the observer, and the subject. I work to generate a dialogue around the distinct humanity of living with a disability.
"Into? explores the constructs of masculinity, identity, and sexuality through still-life photography and portraits of Guthrie and his partner. In the context of personal experiences, Guthrie’s relationship narrates moments of intimacy and vulnerability, while his significant other serves as a self-portrait throughout the images. This allows him to examine when his masculinity and femininity intersect, and how this reflects or contradicts certain stereotypes and perceptions towards femme gay men in Western culture, who are pressured to conform to masculinity by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.
Combining portrait and still-life photography, Guthrie creates a visual dialogue that celebrates the beauty in feminine men, while also celebrating himself in the process. Ultimately, Into? seeks to find ways sexuality is conveyed and how we as individuals construct our own personal notions of preference and desire."
Kenneth Guthrie obtained his BFA in Studio Art with a Photography emphasis from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2016. He works as a Curatorial Assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) and is entering his second year as an MFA in Photography candidate at Columbia College Chicago, working towards the completion of his thesis work, Into? (working title).
"My project, entitled Friends of Dorothy - Censored, focuses on the ways cultural discomfort of queerness is handled in an institutional setting. Friends of Dorothy - Censored depicts a scrambled composite of images of people engaging in queer sex acts. The bisection of these images is on the one hand violent - bodies are cut and reconfigured, mirroring the disapproval many feel around depictions of queer sexuality. At the same time, the abstraction of these images serves to equalize the various forms of sexuality depicted, offering the message that people of all creeds are equally entitled to their own experiences without judgement. The rearrangement abstracts the image to the point where it is not possible to see what is taking place within the image, protecting the viewer from being uncomfortable with queer sexuality and perpetuating the idea that queerness is something to need protecting from.
Discomfort is the feeling of uneasiness, anxiety, or embarrassment. Discomfort also forces you to grow and experience that which you are afraid of. Through the creation of this project I had to approach strangers and ask them to be completely vulnerable to not only me but also my camera. I had to enter the homes of these strangers and shortly after meeting for the first time photograph them in their most intimate moments, engaging in sex.
The title 'Friends of Dorothy' refers to a label in reference to queer identity. The term was used as a way for queer people to identify each other without outing themselves. This was necessary in order to not make others uncomfortable with their queerness. The theme of the project was designed not only to push my artistic boundaries but to also face my anxieties relating to human sexuality. This work attempts to challenge traditional notions of the male gaze by literally representing the gaze of a young queer female who is embracing queer sexuality and sex. The fact that this body of work was denied from exhibition only reinforces the notion that the representations of gender, sex, and sexuality that do not conform to certain traditions make people uncomfortable."
"As a queer artist, I document the community around me as a way of rendering visible that which has historically been invisible. In these photos an element of obfuscation remains as a nod to life in the shadows, but also as a visual reminder of the mystery, magic, and indefinable qualities of queer existence. These images were made over a number of years between Boston and New York and contain within them all of the ordinariness and transcendence of everyday life."
Jess Benjamin is a photographer, meditation teacher, and non-profit consultant based in Chicago. They collaborate on media projects related to spirituality, science, and social justice, and work with nonprofits to raise money and awareness for issues such as food security, education reform, and community health. They serve on the board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, a non-profit that catalyzes partnerships between social justice movements and Buddhist practitioners, and their teaching practice explores the intersection of mindfulness and creative processes.
"These images challenges the notion of an aesthetic that is expected in queer popular culture, and centralizes queer communities of color, especially in the lexicon the cis-hetero lens that photography has always been. In a culture that at times shows its extreme toxic machismo, my friends battle that notion on a everyday basis, through their existence, whether they are accepted or not, whether it they be in the households or in the white supremacy country we live in. "
William Camargo is a Chicanx/Latinx visual artist/educator and organizer raised in Anaheim, CA and residing in Chicago, IL.
His work is inspired from his family’s immigration from Mexico and his working class upbringing in a Mexican/American barrio, touching issues of assimilation, identity, gentrification and immigration through photography. In his most recent work, he uses his rasquache aesthetics to bring awareness to issues of gentrification as a social justice issue that has plagued many communities of color across Chicago and the United States.
William Camargo has also participated at the ACRE Residency in Steuben, WI in 2017, is a past teaching artist residence at Project Art in Chicago, he has also been a teaching artist through the National Museum of Mexican Art and After School Matters and current HATCH Projects Resident at the Chicago Artist Coalition for 2017/2018 years. William has also participated in the New York Times Portfolio Review in 2015 and will be part of the National Latino Association of Arts and Culture's Leadership Institute this Summer in San Antonio.
"My work examines the life of one individual as it relates to the idea of gender construction. By showing the fluidity and diversity of gender as a performance I intend to start a conversation about how we perceive someone based on their outward presentation. My photographs of Sal in The Sal Series portray them as a complex person in such a way that we are able to see their fundamental uniqueness. This uniqueness and dimensionality is what has drawn me to collaborate with them specifically. These portraits are my way of making visible the continual challenges and transformations Sal is encountering within their own identity. The binary of gender and our heteronormative culture still dominate, even while fluidity in gender identity becomes more prevalent. By photographing their life I attempt to create meaningful dialogue between the subject and viewer about the evolving nature of identity."
“I am not circumscribed by the eyes of others, because I have seen myself and I know I am still here. And I live between my own lines, scrawled around and over the signifiers of identity, illegible to casual readers but silly, sacred, nonsense-verse elegy to myself.” - Sal Salam
Shawn Rowe (b. 1985) is a Chicago based artist and curator exploring the complexities of gender and social constructs through portraiture. His long form approach allows him to embed with his subjects for months or years in order to understand them as complex beings. Shawn’s work has been exhibited and featured throughout the United States and internationally including the Photographic Center Northwest, Aint-Bad and Der Greif. Rowe received an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago and holds a BA in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University.
L. (Lucas) Stiegman
"Growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere meant that much of what I learned about the world came from what I saw TV. I learned at this early age that judgment often comes first rather than respect. In college, my access to LGBTQ+ history and social resources helped me overcome my rural-Midwest fear of the unknown and my own anxiety. Through my exposure to current mainstream Queer Culture, I’ve noticed, not all but many, narratives center around the experiences LGBTQ+ people who often live in cities or urban areas. I recall being at a queer/trans event in Chicago where I was in a space surrounded by people who were just like me, yet I felt like I was looking for a lunch table to sit at in high school. I was unable to locate my inner truth even within this diverse, queer and even trans inclusive, space. Expressing these feelings through photography allowed me to work on my values of respect, integrity, and communication. The pride I take in being open about my rural trans identity is my contribution to a larger conversation around popular queer culture. I hope A Midwest Queer Story can engage with any struggling Midwest or rural people as well as help them locate their own inner truth or queerness."
L. Stiegman is currently an undergraduate studying photography and arts technology. Stiegman creates and photographs abstract narratives that are analytical and humorous in order to uncover and organize aspects of their identity. Each of the images in A Midwest Queer Story was partially visualized and then executed through trial and error shooting aided by either a self-timer or an assistant.
"John Queer depicts me on board my father's combine applying yellow lipstick to my indifferent face. I grew up assisting my father with various jobs on the family farm with the expectation I would one day take over. When I would sit in the tractor cabin alone, steering the plow on auto-track I’d be thinking, “Is this all there is going to be when I’m older”, as well as, all femme interests I was too afraid to explore.
The figure seen in the Perfect Housewife is based on the stereotypes of Midwest white women I’d often see on television. I secretly identified with the feminine look of the women I grew up with and saw on television. Few women I knew fit this stereotype but something we all had in common was anxiety. While I was worrying about tornados, Pam was worried that the preservative filled pizza bagels left on the counter for too long would poison the family.
It’s always been difficult for me to clearly state who I am but through portraying these characters I’ve determined what I am not. John Queer and Perfect Housewife are visual representations of my conflicting thought process during my adolescence and early adulthood. The photo Americana reveals the closest approximation of who I am. I’m a visible queer Midwestern who happens to enjoy the colors pink, white, and blue and stirring up a little controversy."
About the Open Call
When does a work of art transition from work in progress to a finished piece? When is the artist done making and starts displaying? LATITUDE is a space that bridges the gap between an artist’s vision and their ability to produce it. We want to use this open call to create a space that bridges the gap between the working lab and the final gallery. Selected artists will have an opportunity to display work in all stages of development in an environment where making is always happening and where our roommates, Filter Photo, are organizing and hosting their own high quality programming and exhibitions . Additionally, the work is be shown online through LATITUDE's website.
Three artists are chosen quarterly to participate, with each exhibition organized around a different theme. The chosen artists get an opportunity to display their prints in the Filter Photo/ LATITUDE shared space and on our online gallery.