Queer Is Not Anti

Festival Photo exhibition 2021

Queer is not Anti – queer is more. Reclaimed from a slur, queer is a word with more than one meaning. Queer is used by individuals to describe their gender or sexual identity as non-conforming with mainstream society. Simultaneously, queer is used as an umbrella term referring to the whole group of people who experience discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or identity, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. Queer is the unclear making it clear. Queer is other. Queer is all the lgbtqia and all the plus. Queer is punk. Queer is used as a battle cry against the structural disadvantages society throws at us. It’s gender neutral. It’s intersectional. It is all of us. It allows us to acknowledge identities left out by the acronym. Queer is not one thing – it is the spectrum. The spectrum of everything that was not wanted. But we want it – we want all of you to be part of the family. Queer is the single word inviting all the uninvited. But can a single word be so inviting? Is the single word queer restoring the binary? Is it a straight versus a queer? Or is it more – and the binary seen only by the ones who always and forever want to see the binary? We are queer, we are trans, we are gay, bi, butch, femmes, we are enbies, two-spirited, we are pan, aros and aces, we are queer, we create our own spaces. 

We are queer and so much more and all at the same time. Queer is anti because you made us the anti. Queer is anti because we are angry. Queer is not just anti because we are more. More than queer, but still queer. Inviting all that is more and still queer. Inviting all the identities to a diverse coalition. Inviting all that is love and sometimes a mess. How do we want to identify? The right answer again ranges on a spectrum, we guess.

Professional and amateur photographers from all over the world were invited to submit their work on the topic “Queer Is Not Anti” as a central theme. Our aim is to open the eye to the entire spectrum of queerness, and in particular to queerness that is lived in non-European societies. In this year’s selection, originality of content, formal consistency, collaborative approaches and the inner attitude of the photographers are decisive.

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. In addition to the online exhibition, selected works by all winners will be present in public spaces all over the city of Heidelberg for the month of May.

  • Busch, Frederik (head of jury – media artist, photographer and university teacher )
  • Corda, Margaux (photographer, visual artist)
  • Cubelic, Danijel (head of Office of Equal Opportunities Heidelberg)
  • Hauser, Dominic (founder of Queer Festival Heidelberg)
  • Iacolutti, Giulia (photographer, visual artist)
  • Müller, Martin J. V. (founder of Queer Festival Heidelberg, curator of Kulturhaus Karlstorbahnhof)
  • Smart, Ngadi (photographer, visual artist)

Queer ist … (k)ein Gegenentwurf.

Der Kampf queerer Menschen für gesellschaftliche Anerkennung und Gleichberechtigung gilt in der öffentlichen Wahrnehmung häufig als eine Bewegung, die dem zweigeschlechtlichen Gesellschafts- und Lebensmodell entgegensteht. Der englische Begriff „Queer“ wird dabei weltweit als ein Sammelbegriff von und für Menschen genutzt, deren sexuelle oder geschlechtliche Identität nicht der gängigen gesellschaftlichen Norm entspricht. Menschen also, die sich nicht in die Kategorien Mann, Frau und Heterosexuell einordnen lassen, weil sie lesbisch sind oder schwul, trans, inter oder vieles andere mehr. In der internationalen Fotoausstellung thematisieren nun Künstler*innen aus aller Welt die Bedeutung des Begriffs „Queer“ als ein Konzept, das für Offenheit und Toleranz wirbt und somit mehr ist als ein Gegenentwurf.

Die Ausstellung „Queer Is Not Anti“ zeigt die Arbeiten der zwölf Gewinner*innen eines internationalen Fotowettbewerbs, den das Queer Festival Heidelberg mit Unterstützung des Amts für Chancengleichheit der Stadt Heidelberg im März ausgelobt hatte. Eine Jury bestehend aus dem Fotografen und Mediakünstler Frederik Busch, den Fotograf*innen Margaux Corda, Giulia Iacolutti und Ngadi Smart sowie dem Leiter des Amts für Chancengleichheit Danijel Cubelic und den beiden Queer Festival Kuratoren Martin J.V. Müller und Dominic Hauser wählte die prämierten Projekte aus den mehr als 140 Einreichungen aus aller Welt aus. Die ausgezeichneten Projekte stammen aus Israel, Mexiko, Spanien, der Elfenbeinküste, Thailand, Brasilien, der Schweiz, Großbritannien, den USA, Russland und China.

Zu sehen ist die gesamte Ausstellung auf den folgenden Seiten. Ausgewählte Motive werden zudem ab Mai für mehrere Wochen als Plakataktion im gesamten Heidelberger Stadtgebiet gezeigt.

Diego Moreno

My parents rejected me because of my homosexuality. I could escape from the violent relationships of their home and grew up with my maternal grandmother Clemencia. My grandmother knew how to raise me through fantasy and her unconditional love, despite the rejection of most of my family.

watch project »

Elsa Kostic

XYX-XO is a sexual chromosome I imagined. It can be endlessly reinvented. Out of all control, it allows infinite exploration of the self. The topic of this project is to question the notion of gender and identity through transformation. I approach it as a dialogue with the models. They are free to represent themselves the way they wish.

watch project »

François Silvestre de Sacy

In China, every little thing seems to be under control. A direct control, through cameras, millions of eyes watching you, and an indirect one, via traditions and information control. Homosexuality is neither criminalised nor considered as a mental disease anymore. Still. “I’d love to, but I can’t be part of your project”.

watch project »

James Emmerman

I met most of my early subjects in 2014, while photographing queer nightlife in New York. In 2017, I began to bring the people I had met into my studio, at daylight. Since then, my portraiture has remained centered on the queer community. Part of my interest in photographing this community stems from being a part of the community myself. These are people and spaces that I know best.

watch project »

Ksenia Kuleshova

I’m drawn to the strength of people’s characters. Their passion for life and love inspires me. I’m looking for real feelings, sincere and pure emotions. Something that is beyond words, something metaphorical.
In my series Ordinary People I explore the ability of ordinary people to enjoy the moment and value the happiness and joy of everyday´s life despite the blatant homophobia in Russian legislature, politics, media and the Russian church.

watch project »

Lydia Metral

In 2014 I started to take intimate portraits of young queer people. As a lesbian woman, I am very interested in meeting likeminded people. My intention is to show them as they really are, building an intimate space, forged in their image, where they can express freely.

watch project »

Matthieu Croizier

This project investigates the concept of ordinary monstrosity, unravelling the boundaries between what is thought of as normal and abnormal. Since the 19th century the staging of “freaks” was essential and images were manipulated to play a vital role in reinforcing the norm.

watch project »

Naraphat Sakarthornsap

The day I confided in someone about my sexuality, they took my story and spread it around for fun. This both hurt my feelings and tainted my identity. My trust became gossip. I decided to turn to my childhood friends, my old teachers and even strangers that I had never met before.

watch project »

Nelson Morales

For almost 40 years, the Muxe community of Oaxaca has struggled to be visible and win their own spaces. The Muxes, beyond considering themselves men or women, have transcended the idea of gender to identify themselves as a third gender, and they are always in search of beauty.

watch project »

Oded Wagenstein

Research has shown that elders in the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to experience loneliness, exclusion, and fear of turning to health and welfare services. The men pictured in this series, all over seventy, identify themselves as gay and live in Israel.

watch project »

Raymond Dakoua

As a straight photographer I felt drawn to this subject because the number of LGBT political refugees in Belgium is fast growing. These people had no choice but to leave their countries of origin, so I wanted to explore the realities they left behind.

watch project »

Studio Prokopiou

This selection of single images are taken from various projects from 2016 to 2020 sharing the common theme of self invention of unapologetic queer identities. These are portraits of outsiders as icons. Queer individuals who choose to construct their image to be visibly queer by blurring and challenging the boundaries of gender expression, sexuality and society’s expectations thereof.

watch project »