Pages - Menu

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Documenting the Photographer... by edward

The first stage of the project has been coming to a close and we have started to return to our regular lives. Anthony and I went out one cold afternoon, just the two of us with the hefty camera equipment and flash and a strip of AA batteries to quickly capture Anthony's final portrait.

We passed through the south lanes, the promenade, the big wheel and kept going down marine parade, away from the crowds until there was just sea. It was only three o' clock but the light was failing already so we had to be quick. Anthony waved down a passerby to take a few shots of us on his phone.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

QueeRealising the PhotoBooth: Take 3... by Luc

JB, AL & SM - B&H, 23.11.13

It’s a wrap!’ declared the still excited/tired director;
the only shots to go: AL’s own portrait(s) ├á la plage
’twas mighty fortunate how vacant the UoB boardroom was –
┼ávankmajer’s cine+ surreality thru-the-window-wall below –
and how the UoF let the precious H4-Hasselblad off site…
Weather, too, shone brass-monkey’d° & blue-sky’d on that shoot,
ridding angst re aches-to-come from human-tripod posture(s)
and flash†gun-upholding triceps-testing stance…
Photograffic’d; photobooth’d; photosynergised.
! Hasta luego QiB amigos / amigas / amiges ¡

Mosaic of images captured at
Jan Švankmajer's exhibition:
'The Inner Life of Objects'
at the University of Brighton
in conjunction with Cinecity 11

† Q:: How Many Surrealists Does It Take To Change The Flashbulb? 

   A:: Cod'n'Chips Twice, Table 6

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Queering the Photobooth: Take 2... by Luc

Saturday & Sunday, 9&10/11/13  (not 12 + no Ten)

creative=anArchy : capturing&captioning

& in the queer-grafitti-quadrant corner:
(R2L) Kelly, Charlie, Kate

 Matt: cool in the hot seat
(on-AL-perspective: not-so-cool...)

softer flash&focus on Fox
(and super=FAB studio flooring)

¿ tweeter @ #twittern ?
(Fox gets Flash'd again)

= Kate in the promenade booth +
Ed, Anthony & Hasselblad in the fast lane
(Harry on the hard shoulder)

3 o'clock cloudscape

laughtering with intent...

 a Ketchup & condiment Kodak moment

  + Luc: JQaP behind the SG3 LCD...

and...  dis-spelling* some Queer myths:

'there's no such thing as bikesexuality'
'homosapienality can be cured'
'we're jender qwe're & we're not he're'
Queers Face Inner Queer Space

&/or malappropriatisms

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What is queer?

A five letter word, just like label
Reclaimed and ‘brand’ new
14 Scrabble points
A playground daddy slur
Beautiful otherness
Does it really matter?

After many weeks away, it was good to be back and not going shopping. However my lightness of being was soon eclipsed by my turn on the chair facing the lens. I had enjoyed the photo booth but in this re-creation I felt strangely unrehearsed and beaten by the flash gun’s menacing strobe. I was in the headmaster’s office or the inquisitor’s chair. Despite being amongst friends, it was all a bit queer and there was no comfort zone.

The pictures themselves did nothing to make me feel any better. My first reaction was horror at seeing my age writ large by piercing unforgiving digital technology. There appeared to be none of the softness and romance of the photo booth in these images. The thought of seeing my face blown up and pasted on walls also filled me with dread. I found myself considering withdrawing from the project rather than confront the many demons ram raiding my brittle self-esteem. But then like a retreating wave the fear subsided as she emerged before me.  I could see my mother’s features woven into my own, the line of her chin; the grey warmth of her eyes. Mesmerised I revisited each picture in turn, greedy to see more of her. Tears welled in my eyes as I channelled the ever present sense of loss with a joy at seeing her alive in me. She died proud of me, another five letter word.

Shopping list


Monday, 11 November 2013

Honestly... by Matt

The second batch of indoor photos took place on Saturday 09 November at the New Writing South workshop. In fact, it was more of a redo of the previous week's work but with the benefit of experience thrown in to make the concept of 'queering the photobooth' more authentically photobooth.

Anthony had a different camera and a more arm-friendly flash box this time. I think it helped to draw the focus in to the sitter, having the flash propped up on top of the camera: It was more intimate, perhaps even a little claustrophobic - definitely more like a real photo booth.

Those who weren't sitting or keeping an eye on the flash were creating text for the fourth panel of the photobooth picture panel.

It's a difficult thing to encapsulate what 'queer' means to me. What I eventually came up with felt like, in the language I used, a corporate motivational poster, rather than a genuine reflection of how I feel. I think my sentiment that I am strong because of my queerness informs how I view myself and being queer, but it's not ultimately honest.

I'm going to be honest now: I am strong because I'm queer - I am queer because I'm strong. When I was young I was depressed and lonely but I was queer (well, gay) and I somehow knew that it would be okay deep down. I realise now just how lucky I was, having escaped persecution from the community I lived in, or being ostracised by my family, or worse ending it all because it was all too much to bear,
That's not to say I didn't experience any of this, just that it was never to the extent of the extreme stories we all hear about from LGBT groups or on sad stories in the news.

I was touched for a lot of my younger life by the black dog of depression and the one thing I clinged to on dark nights and foggy days was that I am queer and it helped me through. Genuinely. Honestly.
My parents, desperate to bring me out of that funk, helped me by sending me to The Priory when I was 26. It was consensual and it was kill or cure. Really. Honestly. I hated myself, apart from that molten core of queerness that kept me going. I gradually reconnected with the things that had given me strength and one of those things was music. I dug my hands into the Earth and drew strength from the music that had shaped me as a child and a teenager and that stirred up all sorts of memories, good and bad.

I met Andrew not long after I came out of The Priory. I was still attending counselling sessions and I was unemployed. I was in my larval stage when I met him and I quickly fell in love, revelling in the new-found emotional self that I had reconnected with. His glamorous lifestyle compared to my state of being unemployed yet hopeful for the future was a heady mix. When we decided to enter a civil partnership a couple of years later, I can truthfully say that we should have ended it there - but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It's easy to say these things with the benefit of hindsight but it's honestly how I feel.

Now I am me, confident in myself (not always, you understand - I am human), with a job that I love and possibly on the verge of a great love affair. I love and am loved (although I have yet to use the word - I am cautious still of repeating a pattern or jumping into something too soon), I have strong family ties and great friends. And there's so much more out there to experience - so many Worlds to conquer. I am the master of my own destiny. I make my own luck. Honestly.

Queer is me.
I am Queer.
I subscribe to a Queer politic.
I stand up for Queers.
I love being Queer.
Queer defines me.
I define Queerness.
We are lovers and friends.
We are bound by blood.
We are Queer through experience.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

My arm hurts... by Matt

I've always been tall - it's a physical trait that has never escaped me. I used to be self-conscious of it, not helped by people peering up at me (even as a child) and asking me how the air is 'up there' or inquiring if my mother put my feet in grow-bags at night.

Hilarious and keen observations, obviously.

Being tall has its uses, once you grow out of the awkward stooping gait acquired by attending infant and primary schools that only cater to children of 'average or below' height. I can reach high shelves, see over things and other people, and for some inexplicable reason I am more likely to be asked to tackle the opening of a difficult jar of pickled onions at Christmas. I find that tea towels are the best method for the latter task.

I don't have any pictures of the process of taking portraits because my tallness was being utilised for one very important task: Holding up the light thingy as Ed so succinctly put in his blog post.

We were trying (and I think we succeeded in doing so) to capture the photobooth style that we had discovered was a most excellent fun  thing to do in the very first sessions of not going shopping. But where those snaps had been in the very forgiving black and white, these shots were to be in full colour.

I've certainly not shied away from taking pictures of myself, I even set it out as a challenge in my head to overcome my hatred of viewing pictures of me. My journey over the past year has been, at times, melodramatic to say the least. In fact I was chatting to a friend over WhatsApp the other day and he remarked that my life had become a bit 'Jezza Kyle' (Jeremy Kyle, in case you were wondering) of late.I used to fear chaos as I thought it marked me out as unable to cope but I'm slowly realising that the secret to chaos is to be within the eye of the storm as much as I can.

And so the seemingly mundane task of holding up flash box whilst all around me people chatted, took photos, were having their photo taken, adjusting tripods and lens focus, and making a lot of tea and coffee allowed me to relax and take stock of the project.

I'll admit that I've felt a lack of focus of late. I am no longer shackled by the camera, although I certainly see things in a new way. I can see a good photo opp where once before I would have sailed by and then cooed over someone else's photograph of the event.But I don't instinctively reach for the camera now. I can relax.

Saturday's session was a rekindling of the energy and enthusiasm that I felt in the first sessions of the project and I was buzzing that we were actually taking portraits. I felt part of the experience more than I ever have before. Certainly more than I did all those weeks ago when I felt irrelevant to the project and expressed my thoughts on Facebook.

I can't wait until this Saturday's session. We'll be doing it all over again and my arms will hurt a bit but it's totally worth it.

Portrait Making 2.11.13 : an Acrostic Account... by Luc


Assembled, (nearly not shopping) at
North Laine NewWritingSouth studio space:
Dandy-fied & product-coiffed; bespectacled - or no?

Quentin Crisp-esque, sartorial Luc:
Uses lost&found hair bunjies for hanging faux curtain
(Enjoys pinning & stapling & duct taping drape).
Entertaining, the Hallowe'en costumised banter.
Rubberised lens parts: look&lust but daren't touch…
Interesting donuts - via Matt - defo for dunking;
Neo-iced-latte cuppa ('it's not Camp...') for quaffing.
Glistening* foreheads on flash-gun-glare testing.

Tripod legs to adjust-for-all; first jpegs-to-laptop: transfer all.
'Head's too low. Go for more person, less curtain!'
Expletives (spl)uttered [& grimaces] but no 'Say cheese!' grins.

'Portraits R Us!': JB’s up first (in autumnal sweater);
Harry's shirt collar 'matches the curtain exactly!'
[Off to the Laine shops for yes, yet more batteries]
Tattoos on show today: on arms & on torsos.
(O + Cmnd brings up Slideshow on Preview)
Black-jacketed Ed poses bemused on the blue chair;
On his iPhone, Fox: documenting & txting.
Orlando arrives: fashionably late; now unleashed…
Testing focus / ISO / aperture: 'our' Anthony.
(Harold Wilson-Lucalike: humorous moment)

Sarah’s tonsorial artistry session:
Hair – G D Rossetti-red – tumbling on turquoise.
'Oh, Orlando!' as he straddles available trouser'd leg…
[Of course, the pooch-shoot upstages the whole show!]
Tesserae'd grainy thumbnails for an 18-shot mosaic:

1 excited/tired director; 7 snapped-happy (or not-so) 'narcissists'...

* 'cis-men perspire & cis-women glow; trans* persons alternately glisten &/or sparkle'

Portraits, part 1 ... by Edward

 I almost broke the camera, but only for a second. Being the tallest, Matt ended up holding the light thingy (flashgun maybe?) for most of the day, though the rest of us managed standing on a chair quite well.

And of course we were entertained throughout by Orlando The Dog, who posed magnificently, even if I did end up with quite a few nose shots.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Making The Cut ... by Edward

Photos have been taken, cropped, edited and printed and now laid out across the table we've been making the cull: keeping our favourites and ruthlessly removing anything not up to scratch.

It was a tricky process of first finding themes and connections between eleven different people's photos, all very different in style, all coming at the queer in brighton project from different angles, and then selecting from these the ones that worked best, the ones we loved.

There was, of course, quite a bit of disagreement. Some photos were removed and returned to the keeping this pile a few times before the end of the day. And it was tricky partly because we don't know yet what the photos are going to sit beside, what the text will be, how the page will be laid out, even what size they will appear in the book. But we picked from instinct. What grabbed us, what said something.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Fone Foto Mosaicing... by Luc

One of the pleasures for me of smart phone/ mobile photography is being able to capture screenshots from my phone's image gallery.

Sometimes the screenshot cropped thumbnails in combination form an interesting and sometimes (to me) successful "foto mosaic" image in its own right: by its interplay &/or repetition of colour and light, of lines, angles and shapes...

I capture screenshots variously: from the camera's DCIM folder of sequential-but-random shots; from a created folder for a theme of images - such as flora&architecture; from a single day's photo-journalling shoot; etc.

Here are some less-than-the-full-21-shots "mosaics" that I've snap-captured during the period of our not-going-shopping workshops (July - October).

Thursday, 24 October 2013

What Queerness means to us by JB and Sarah

"Queerness, to me, is about far more than homosexual attraction. It’s about a willingness to see all other taboos broken down. Sure, many of us start on this path when we first feel “same sex” or “same gender” attraction (though what is sex? And what is gender? And does anyone really have the same sex or gender as anyone else?). But queerness doesn’t stop there.
This is a somewhat controversial stance, but to me queer means something completely different than “gay” or “lesbian” or “bisexual.” A queer person is usually someone who has come to a non-binary view of gender, who recognizes the validity of all trans identities, and who, given this understanding of infinite gender possibilities, finds it hard to define their sexuality any longer in a gender-based way. Queer people understand and support non-monogamy even if they do not engage in it themselves. They can grok being asexual or aromantic. (What does sex have to do with love, or love with sex, necessarily?) A queer can view promiscuous (protected) public bathhouse sex with strangers and complete abstinence as equally healthy.
"Queers understand that people have different relationships to their bodies. We get what it means to be stone. We know what body dysphoria is about. We understand that not everyone likes to get touched the same way or to get touched at all. We realize that people with disabilities may have different sexual needs, and that people with survivor histories often have sexual triggers. We can negotiate safe and creative ways to be intimate with people with HIV/AIDs and other STIs.
Queers understand the range of power and sensation and the diversity of sexual dynamics. We are tops and bottoms, doms and subs, sadists and masochists and sadomasochists, versatiles and switches. We know what we like and don’t like in bed. We embrace a wide range of relationship types. We can be partners, lovers, friends with benefits, platonic sweethearts, chosen family. We can have very different dynamics with different people, often all at once. We don’t expect one person to be able to fulfill all our diverse needs, fantasies and ideals indefinitely.
Because our views on relationships, sex, gender, love, bodies, and family are so unconventional, we are of necessity anti-assimilationist. Because under the kyriarchy we suffer, and watch the people we love suffering, we are political. Because we want to survive, we fight. We only want the freedom to be ourselves, love ourselves, love each other, and live together. Because we are routinely denied that, we are pissed.
Queer doesn’t mean “don’t label me,” it means “I am naming myself.” It means “ask me more questions if you curious” and in the same breath means “fuck off.""

- by Asher

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly – By JB

As a queer person (and even more so a Trans person) coming out is a very personal affair. However, coming out to people often means that a kind of queer ambassadorship is thrust upon you, whether you like it or not.

To the straight people drunkenly asking how you have sex in the nightclub smoking area, or the confused elderly lady on the bus you inadvertently blurted to, you are now the spokesperson for your entire community. The pressure is on.

Much like a Briton abroad - stuck cringing amongst a rowdy flock of topless, sunburnt, lager filled aggressors, hoping that the poor Spaniards subjected to the unsightly crowd won’t judge all 63.23 million of us - LGBT people come in all shapes, sizes, colours, and levels of agreeability.

It’s unsettling when you meet an LGBT person with disagreeable views and opinions, because you imagine all of the people who have met them and made a judgement about the entire community based on their utterings.

It’s not the job of the LGBT community to be perfect all the time, it’s the job of everybody else to humanise us more, and in doing so – see us as individuals.
When I began taking photos for this project I was going through a period of great personal change and reflection, and I found that as I did this my photos moved away from the scenes of the city and it’s vibrant and diverse queer community, to close ups of myself and my loved ones, pieces of great self-expression and vulnerability.

I felt the pressure release as I abandoned the idea of trying to represent a group of people I couldn’t hope to capture, even with the best camera on earth. I began to represent myself, and did so with much more success. 
While these pieces speak a lot about me and my experiences of being queer - experiences I share in common with many of my friends - not all queer art is ambassadorship, and it should not be treated as such.

Generalisations based on what we say, what we do, and even what we create are not helpful, and can be dehumanising. While art often brings us together on common ground, one thing I am most proud of the queer community for is its ability to celebrate difference. I want people to look at our photos – together and individually – as a cross section of the community. The good, the bad, and the ugly reside here; and we are just like you, in that we are not the same at all.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Handing in the camera ... by Matt

I posted this on the Facebook page on Tuesday, 22 October 2013.

On the bus, running late, returning the loan camera.

I've had fun with the project. It was a good creative outlet at a time in my life where everything else seemed to be chaotic.

I could be glib and suggest that being queer in Brighton is like being anything else in Brighton: I am subject to the same trials and tribulations as my 'straight' friends, family and colleagues. But that's too easy!

I am here, I am queer, I've been shopping (though I hate it!), I continue to love and work and despair and cry with happiness. I love Brighton. I am in love with its offbeat perspective on life.
Where else can I cycle to work, a mundane activity that is slowly giving me killer legs, and pass a drunken man cycling the other way as he plays a trombone? ( this happened - and I couldn't capture it on camera! Aargh! )

I don't need a flag, but I did when I was 16 and I had just come out. I remember walking into Virgin and buying some terrible soft-core porn, thinking that was the sum of my life. I grew up confident in my queerness even though I wasn't confident at all in any other area of my life.

I looked to my parents, who are now approaching 45 years of marriage, and thought that's what I had to do to be successful - only my marital bliss would be with a man that I loved.

It didn't ( and may never ) work out like that. I'm still sad over the ending of my relationship with Andrew. I have days where I immerse myself in the break-up music - Del Amitri and Kirsty Macoll are excellent exponents of this genre - And days where I embrace the awesomeness that is my life right now.

I had a poignant experience yesterday, sitting in the waiting room of the Claude Nicol, waiting for my six month sexual health check-up. I picked up a copy of Latest7 and read my ex's columns. It was poignant because I still had a connection to him. He mentioned me fleetingly at the end of a piece about a restaurant. Not by name but by a seemingly innocuous encounter over a whole dressed crab. Andrew could never confront me about anything but thought nothing of doing it in print. I was genuinely touched. Queer World, innit?

Apps ... by Matt

After the London 2012 Olympic Games, many people are now aware of the smart phone app Grindr. There was a story doing the rounds that the arrival of so many athletes to the Olympic village had caused Grindr to grind to a halt. This was all good journo grist for the mill and, I suspect, excellent free advertising for Grindr itself.

There are quite a few of those apps out there, all designed to allow (predominantly) men to hook up for casual sex, to chat, or more commonly to waste other people's valuable time.

I'm a fan of the first option and when I was initially aware of Grindr I did not have a smart phone:. I had a crappy, large-buttoned 'granny' phone with a tiny screen and absolutely no capability for connecting to WiFi or the Internet at all. My life was simpler then. I was happily married and commuting between Brighton and Eastbourne every day. Certainly no time for a bit of extra-marital how's yer father with a flight attendant who's into underwear and role play. I sometimes wonder, in weaker moments, if the explosion of Grindr, Scruff, Growlr, Recon, Gay Network, Gaydar (the app), Squirt and all those myriad apps and websites into my life wasn't the herald of the end of days of my relationship with the now-ex.

Of course it wasn't. To blame the entirety of my break-up on software is no different to the Daily Mail-fuelled garbage bandied about every time a new GTA (Grand Theft Auto) game is released. Like any good piece of software, or hardware, user input is accountable for 95%* of the experience, good and bad.

When Andrew deigned to give me his hand-me-down iPhone in exchange for him using my upgrade to get a sparkly new one, I immediately rushed to the App Store to see what I could lay my hands on. We had an open relationship so it was cool. I knew Andrew used the apps as we had, in the past, used them to pick up passing trade on our trips to see his family in Somerset and South Wales.

I fumbled about with setting up profiles, taking selfies that I thought had a certain Myra Hindley quality about them, proudly displaying my 'Open Relationship' flag for all to see. Considering a lot of gay men I know play around outside of relationships, there's an awful lot of judgement going on from all sides the moment you declare that you're allowed to have sex with other people.

Andrew and I had always reasoned that playing about in the bushes, for example, doesn't lead to declaring love for someone else - at least not for two, level-headed men such as ourselves. Open relationships do seem to work for some but, in the end, it was a part of what drove a wedge between us. As I stoked the ashes of our relationship, I realised that Andrew's way of keeping me with him was by allowing me my Droit de Seigneur. I think he lacked confidence in his ability to keep me distracted.

I soon found that a lot of men using the apps were firmly in the 'wasting other people's valuable time' category. Men would show an interest, a couple of lewd pictures would be exchanged and then I'd frighten them off with the seemingly innocuous but obviously very dangerous line, "So, shall I come round in an hour?" Silence.

And those men that I did meet opened up a World of possibility to me: I might like the freedom to meet who I wish more often than just whenever Andrew was off gallivanting about town and I thought I had enough time to be discrete about it. I met interesting men with exciting lives who always spoke of the apps with an air of secret shame. We had fun and my sex life was enriched all the more for it. But as I trudged home, thinking up a good excuse as to where I'd been in case Andrew had arrived home before me, the depressing sensation that I really shouldn't be proud of being in an 'Open Relationship' crept over me.

As I write this now, it's a slightly different story. For one I'm 'Single' and open to 'Chat', 'Networking' and 'NSA' (No Strings Attached). I am more confident in my outlook being a singleton and in turn I am rewarded by far more (genuine, for the most part) interest from the men of Brighton and Hove.

I still face the disappointment of the fantasists who like the idea of meeting but really just want a picture of my cock so they have something to masturbate over later on. Of course I could be being a little hasty in my judgement: Perhaps they're just not as confident as me and are certainly not in the same place as I am, head and heart. Perhaps.

I take rejection on the chin from the guys with porn star bodies who aren't into hairy men with beer bellies.

For the first time in my life I am able to chat to guys who are younger than me. I know what it's like to project an air of confidence and experience whilst being 21 years of age, wanting something more than fleeting physical contact with a stranger because, well, that's what you're supposed to want, isn't it? A boyfriend? Someone to buy expensive furniture with and be middle-aged before your time. Until the next hot guy comes along at any rate.

In short, I love and am loved. Just not in that romantic, 1950s movie way. And I love it.

I just made that statistic up

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Where on the rainbow are you? ... by Sarah

One of the most amazing things about taking part in Not Going Shopping is being able to talk about identity with people from such diverse backgrounds and across different generations. I could spend a whole weekend talking about what labels mean now, what they meant back then and what they might mean in the future. Anyway, I came across this quote after the workshop on Saturday just passed and made a drawing of all the people I like (not including the special place in my heart for people who can fix bikes).

What I love about being queer is the ability to grow and transform my sexuality. The recognition that our sexualities are complex and ever evolving, just as every other part of us, is a blissfully freeing thing. Regardless of anything else in the entire world, I am not bound by anyone else’s rules beside my own. Queer is freedom, possibility and space.-Kim Crosby, Toronto

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Photos Postering Space Search ... by Luc

One of the outcomes planned for Not Going Shopping is to display posters on public walls around Brighton & Hove.

Over coffees and teas at Cafe Delice in the North Laine, the group discussed how this would look and how the participants would go about locating some postering spaces. The general agreement was that the images would be displayed in non-central, non-tourist spaces about the city; places that were not necessarily associated with any queer culture or lifestyle or venues.

I suggested that we take on chosen areas of the city to peruse and locate suitable walls. These would be photographed by the participant - and located on Google maps - in order for folk at QinB partners, Photoworks to liaise with the relevant Council admin person re the logistics and permission for postering in the chosen locations.

My chosen area was Tarner - because I am an allotment gardening volunteer for the Brighton Unemployed Centre and Families Project located in the area; I visit the Centre on a regular basis to use its facilities plus eat lunch there. I also 'spotted' a couple of other poster-able walls: on my journey from Seven Dials home district down toward New England Street - as I volunteer for Mind in their office on that street; in the London Road area, an above-eye-level wall space viewed through a busy surgery's stairwell window... 

A photo video ('assembled' in iMovie) charts my wall space search in these areas:

Saturday, 14 September 2013

What Not Going Shopping means to me ... by Sarah

When I contacted Anthony to take part in this project, I just knew how much I love photography and how I missed the workshops I did at the Evolutions Art Centre ages ago. I write daily, sometimes for love & art and sometimes for money, so I already had a creative computer-based practice. It was amazing to leave that behind a little and start working offline more and even though I am glad that we`ll have more sessions than planned, there are already a few really good things that I know I will take away from this:

Being queer can be challenging and even heart-breaking, but its also a chance to develop a unique way of looking at the world creatively. I love being part of this community and I really, really value its creative potential and diversity.

Taking self-portraits has been a revealing journey for me. Like many queers, I have always had a rather complicated relationship with my body and don`t like having my picture taken. Constructing images that show me and reflect a part of me without displaying my face or my body in a way that puts my appearance up for debate (I chose to wear a wide black dress in all my pictures) has been empowering for me. I might have always been critical about the way women are portrait in popular media, but I never had a chance to think so much about the way all elements of a picture are there for a reason. Being alone with my camera and tripod has really sharpened my senses for these issues and I am currently writing about self-portraits as feminist practice for my blog

I am really glad that Anthony encouraged us to explore our artistic freedom so much. I never felt that I was supposed to produce pictures of happy clappy queers dancing in the sunset at Brighton beach. Learning from the others in the group has been an amazing influence on my work. Not just because the creative approaches have been great, but also because I gained insight into lives and perspectives I wouldn’t have touched in my everyday life.

Finally I think this project has brought a lot of discussion about the healing elements of a creative practice and its influence on our identity into my life. Even though I have always written and had work of mine published for the first time more a decade ago, it took me a really long time to claim the word “writer” for myself, especially now that I am living in a culture that operates in a language that isn`t my own. Its the same with being an artist – for anyone else I feel that as long as someone is creating art, they are an artist. Maybe that`s true for all of us, including me. I have written down “artist” among other things in a “what are you doing with your life?”-box for the first time ever.

Monday, 2 September 2013

24 hours ... by Harry

Taking part in Not Going Shopping has been like climbing a step ladder and seeing the patterns of your carpet with new light streaming through the windows. My perspectives on queer have been rewoven with new and stimulating thread and a revitalised coat of many colours now hangs in my closet. Wonderful people have made my mind tumble and twirl with the added bonus of many preconceptions and labels being left at the door. I am queer, I really am here and on this occasion I am not going shopping.

I left the last session feeling inspired by the quality of work and some of the photos here are my homage to the honesty, beauty and brilliance I saw displayed.

My life is threaded by an ever changing musical landscape and one of my current obsessions is the Scott Walker infused yelp of Daughn Gibson. He sounds as good as he looks and last night I had the delight of being up close but not quite as a personal as my fantasies would like.

When I returned home energised and still buzzing I logged on to one of the many dubious sites I use to see what was cooking in the Brighton & Hove kitchen. My approach is to send out lots of lines in the hope of hooking something good enough to eat. It's rare that these late night rummages lead to anything but tonight a young gentleman I've been chatting to for months suddenly seemed keen so I sped into town. He was reluctant to have photos taken but I managed to get these. I know it's depraved but I particularly like the semen still glistening on his belly. Hell awaits...

Monday dawned bright and sunny and filled with the vigour of my recent liaison I headed to London for the day. These were taken on my walk to the station.

The Pompeii exhibition exceeded my expectations and I was deeply moved by it. No photos allowed sadly but I never tire of the beauty of the Sir Norman Foster designed Great Court. If only all buildings could be so well conceived.

The train journey home was relaxing and I took the time to catch up on some reading. I took this picture of the reversed reflection as I boarded.

I took a different route back to my car when I left the station and came across more stickers, street art and a stunning passion flower in full bloom.

I use the car to listen to new records and at the moment 'Immunity' by Jon Hopkins is on high rotation. Sometimes and often unexpectedly music will hard wire into me and produce a euphoric or strong emotional response. On the journey home 'Abandon Window' had the hairs standing on my arms and tears pouring from my eyes. I felt my mother strongly and the music exactly tracked the pain that can surface like a river of sorrow. When I reached my drive, I took these portraits.

You can listen to the piece here if you choose to -

My home is my sanctuary and tonight the most beautiful of sunsets once again danced over my haven of peace.

Savour the light,
the shapes she draws.
Painted prism textures,
and a 1,000 blessings.

Jai Guru Deva OM