Our terminology may have not, but queer bodies have existed since the beginning of humankind. And queer bodies have found representation through photographs since the beginning of this light-and-life-capturing medium. Most of these older traces of norm-shaking, thriving realities had to be found again. Lots were erased from family histories. Some were shown for decades with their queer truths lost in the eyes of their beholders.
Meaningful gestures and items, bodily landscapes and thought-out relational compositions – hints at queerness hardly comprehended without shared lived experiences. Often flying under the radar. Sometimes as apparent as hitting you like a ton of bricks. Photographs which make reality feel real. Images – one at a time – recording queer love, queer hurt or queer joy for eternity.
From pictures of loving couples taken in photo booths, eliminating the need for a knowing photographer, to still lifes of fruits, vases and memorabilia, to keepsakes and artistic creations presenting garlands of violets, lavender and green arnation, showing telling postures, hands, beltside key rings, tattoos and scars healing whole biographies, rays of light and color combinations, laced-up boots and antique statues. Queer semiotics have emerged and evolved. Codes have become manifold. An ever-expanding visual language has been created. Yet still it often remains undiscovered by the wider public.
While the portrait has become one of the dominating means of expressing queerness in photography, many artists have chosen more abstract routes to investigate issues of identity in their work. Especially when imaging the non-binary, abstraction opens up new possibilities for permanently gendered bodies. No matter how concrete the form: there can be queerness stored and found in everything.
Depictions of societies as (mal-) functioning organisms, the individual and the collective bending their bodies of resistance, or pictures leaving the body behind the camera but bringing their issues to the forefront. Let us find immortality together through the analogue, the digital, the concrete, the abstract – the queer photography of 2023, of before, now and after.
Get more information and the story behind each project on the following pages. Explore the range of warm personal stories, critical approches, portraits, political statements and abstract processing.
Queere Körper existieren seit es Menschen gibt und seit Entdeckung der Fotografie wurden sie durch dieses Medium abgebildet. Spuren ihrer die Normen durchbrechenden Realität mussten häufig wiederentdeckt, Codes neu entschlüsselt werden. Viele wurden aus Familiengeschichten getilgt. Und doch sind sie da, in bedeutungsvollen Gesten und Gegenständen, Körperlandschaften, feinen Bildkompositionen. Die Zeichen entwickelten sich und wurden zu einer endlos expandierenden Bildsprache. Und doch bleibt diese von der breiten Öffentlichkeit häufig unentdeckt. In der diesjährigen Fotoausstellung suchen wir gemeinsam nach der Unsterblichkeit, die uns in Bild und Licht festhält.
In a formal act of autonomy, Awuor Onyango, Mal Muga and Namikoye Wanjala decided to defy the regulations of the call for single projects and applied as a group with three aesthetically very different projects addressing questions of visibility and queer solidarity.