Here and Now
Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Earlier this year, when Rafael Soldi, a Peruvian-born, Seattle- based photographer and independent curator, was approached by Silver Eye Center for Photography to curate an exhibition on queer photography, his initial instinct was to decline.
But, he says, "As I looked around me -- as a queer person, artist and curator -- I saw peers making work of incredible complexity and depth. Many of them were exploring queerness in their work, but they did so in infinitely different ways. Some of the work, in fact, is so different that even in their shared exploration of queerness, they don't go hand-in-hand."
That's when Soldi realized something. "To dilute work by queer artists to simply 'queer' disregards the multidimensionality of their practice and the conceptual framework of their work," he says. "For this reason, I chose to accept the challenge to present an exhibition of queer work so long as I was able to present it in a context that defines it as other than 'just queer.' "
On display at Silver Eye Center for Photography, the exhibit "Here & Now" does just that, exploring queer culture across America through the work of five artists and two "artist teams," who intuitively looked for meaning through their personal travels and relationships.
For example, Molly Landreth presents a seven-year journey through rapidly changing communities across America to offer brave new visions of what it means to be queer in America today. In images like "Ducky and Her Friends, Cedar Rapids, IA. 2008" and especially "Dusty and Judy, The Ozarks, MO. 2009," we get a sense that one's sexuality has no bearing on other aspects of lifestyle, such as friendships, pastimes and careers.
Hanging opposite, Richard Renaldi's "Hotel Room Portraits" offer a glimpse into the artist's own life on the road with his partner of 15 years, Seth. For example, in images like "Thailand, 2005," the two share a tender morning moment in a sleeping car on a train traveling through Thailand.
As Soldi puts it, "Not only is an image a record of intimacy and journal of his travels with his partner, Seth, but also an affirmation of their commitment to one another over the span of over 15 years."
Works by the artist teams -- We Are the Youth (Laurel Golio and Diana Scholl) and #1 Must Have (Adrien Leavitt and A. Slaven) -- fill places and space in between the aforementioned, more personal explorations, through photographic journalism projects that chronicle the individual stories of queer individuals as presented through a more panoptic view.
We Are the Youth focuses on addressing the lack of visibility of LGBTQ young people by providing a space online (wearetheyouth.org) to share stories in an honest and respectful way through portraiture and storytelling. …