That arguably explains the book’s subtitle “Focus on the margins.”
I didn’t imagine only the negative aspects of injustice and oppression that spring to mind when you think of the margins of society. There are a lot of positive things as well. Living on the margins often creates the very conditions that enable people to cast off the shackles of social norms and conventions, to spread their wings in total freedom, and to explore, question, and experience their gender identity in an uninhibited way. Dustin Thierry’s photos of opulent ballroom scenes from Amsterdam, Berlin, Milan, and Paris illustrate the creativity that can be unleashed on the margins, while the subjects of Spyros Rennt’s and Lukas Viar’s Berlin portraits ooze confidence and assurance, far from any sense of victimhood. Similarly, the images of Francesco Cascavilla, Jordan Reznick, and Claudia Kent demonstrate that individual perceptions and alternative ideals of beauty can be expressed and experienced more freely on the margins.
The texts in your book also address issues such as political oppression. To what extent are they essential to understanding queer photography?
I believe that they give many of the photos a political dimension and an element of social criticism, whether deliberately or not. This is illustrated by a substantial number of the documentary-style works in the book. One impressive case in point is Robin Hammond’s series “Where love is illegal,” which portrays LGBTIQ individuals from countries where same-sex love is a criminal offense. A closer look at Hammond’s photos in particular reveals that there is a certain ambiguity at play: the photographer’s remarkably sensitive approach allows the courage and strength of the portrayed subjects to triumph over their victimization. His images give them visibility and an opportunity to tell their own stories, despite the serious risks this entails.