Photography and sexual diversity - the art of learning to transmit in favor of a collective.

By: Ximena Troya

From the visual arts, particularly from photography, there have been several professionals who have worked hard to make visible the themes inherent to sexual diversity, in all its expressions and spaces, approached from personal experiences as part of a community or as participants in a community. activity carried out in marches, in the streets, in diverse spaces, that is, as external support to the LGBTIQ + collective or simply artists who find these activities conducive to transmitting and demonstrating an important social and collective activity.

I have always thought that making art being part of a collective, in this case the LGBTIQ + community, is a very different thing than being outside of it; There is a big difference between “respect, but make no mistake, I am not”, or “respect and support, but I have never had a non-heterosexual experience” to “my whole life has gone through joys, tears, conquests, conflicts, and all this because many people are bothered by the exercise of my sexuality ”, although both people are part of the community in a different way, it will never be the same to make art from these two different positions, the experience of any circumstance will always make us take a different position, much more with regard to the visual arts, which connect both with our interior and at the same time with the viewer, the art imbued with experiences and experiences, definitely has a different feeling.

Probably many people wonder, but how do you differentiate a photograph taken by someone from the community, than by someone who is not? Is there really a difference if the photograph is taken by someone from the LGBTIQ + community or someone who is not?
Far beyond the quality and technique that each person has to take photographs, the political position in front of the image comes into play, the motivation to make it, the visibility and emphasis of one or another situation, the sensitivity to determine what is pertinent to photograph? What can I create to position one or another posture? What research base will I use for my photographic project? What do I intend to question in this macho, patriarchal, heteronormed, homophobic and transphobic society? What situations are necessary to make visible? There is a great difference in the artist who takes photographs because there is an opportunity to take them, such as a march or a parade and who takes them to open a space for debate, to make visible something that at first glance is impossible to see or to make known a reality that few people know, many are the existing motivations.
diversidad sexual
The images that make visible the gay pride or LGBTIQ + marches around the world and in the country, contribute to position the presence of an increasingly visible and purposeful community and, hopefully, increasingly free internally and vis-à-vis society; that colorful and festive atmosphere that is observed in the marches is reflected in photographs that speak of the desire to exist with equality, to be in freedom, to show the essence from what we are, to claim everything that hurt us, the image it has allowed us to see the soul of these spaces. And it is not just about a good photograph, it is everything that that image represents for whoever took it.

There are also coverages of unions of people of the same sex that bet on show compliance with a right, to show that there is an outstanding debt of the states with a sector of the population, a struggle of real activism and committed by equality, the evidence of a right that is denied even in several countries, the photographs become part of the living testimony of the vindication of the rights of sexual diversities in society, allowing to remember, relive and position all the
symbolism of a multi-year struggle, it is important for society to look at it, understand it and assimilate it, through the gaze of the photographers, today more than ever, you photograph them. Many other photographs bet on portraying people belonging to diversity sexual, with the joy, sadness, the dramas, recognition and history that each person carries in his gaze, in his gestures, in his posture, in his brightness or in his shadow, that intimate portrait of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans person, who arouses curious glances, empathy, hatred and even ignorance, with comments such as “hey, it doesn’t seem like, no you can see it, it seems normal, I don’t like it at all, etc. ”are some of the phrases that can hear in corridors, parks, cultural exhibition centers or in expressions posted on social networks that accompany virtual exhibitions, sometimes somewhat stronger, more violent, with that power that sadly gives you the anonymity of a social network.

And much more connected to reality are documentary photographers, who generate a photographic product based on the in-depth investigation of a situation or a subject, whose images are dictated by each of the realities that are to be evidenced, as well as for each of the feelings that came into play when assimilating the essence of the investigation documentary made, this work unlike those mentioned above allows investigate the depth of a situation or a person, to investigate it, present an alternative to the stereotype or the social imaginary or to contribute to the generation of a deep political and social change.
We reflected then, it is not only to take a camera in hand, to do perfect framing, handling an impeccable technique and using the light to your advantage, is knowing transmit what other people want to tell us and also what they want shut up, do a lot with the little they have to say or know how to synthesize with the abundance information they provide, is to try to photograph in our mind the soul and place it in a context and then make an image or generally a series of images, a story; the photographic work then goes beyond the image, it has a soul, it tells a history, evidences actions and details, feels and makes you feel, it is an immobile reality suspended in time to contribute to the understanding of things, it is not a simple image, becomes a document part of an investigation, an evidence of the analyzed social reality.
At certain times too, photographers try to go beyond the traditional attitude of the studio artists and the distance from the conflict, from the distance from the streets and struggles, of the truths that pass us as a society, of the simple representation of the aesthetics, or photography for image quality, as Lacy mentions in his article Art, memory and violence: “artists are interested in the question: is it art or is it politics?” (Lacy 2003, 33). This is how this reflection becomes at a given moment, in a self-questioning of the motivation and consequences of art work, it is in this precise moment that takes even more value, the photographic work done by people belonging to the LGBTIQ + collective. The political bet is not lived only from the vindication of a sexuality that is free and respected by society, but also constitutes a message that passes through different stages of the country’s sociopolitical work, from the struggles for equal rights and the guarantee of a life free of violence. Is this work, steeped in a deep political commitment, the one that makes the difference, the one that contributes in different ways to the transformation of reality.
At the same time, it is these actions that lead to the issue developed by Lacy as “the role of the artist”. When analyzing the article Art, memory and violence, cited above, the author raises 5 roles that the artist has, without first mentioning that “Visual artists in particular are frequently seen as outside or apart from public life, distant commentators more than committed activists. It is precisely this opportunity to act publicly, and to act effectively, which is valued by many public artists contemporaries. ” (Lacy 2003, 36). In the American context and for that moment of history, is how artists were defined emphasizing visual artists, but it is in that same context that the author flawlessly breaks down to the 5 roles that usually meet the artists, mainly related to public art, same that I will allow myself mention below, to understand the importance of who is behind a camera, mainly for their motivation.
The first role tells us about the role of the artist as an “experimenter”, let me quote verbatim “is an artist who practices empathy and subjectivity in public … such subjectivity, in fact, is assumed as fundamental for art ”(Lacy 2003, 36). East seeks to have deep social experiences, that is, the contribution from the subjectivity of a photographer allows to transform a reality, to become a vehicle of expression, a translator who molds with the hands of his empathy, in this case, all the photographs that performs and the preparation processes that it requires, let us remember that this role highlights mainly the public exercise of subjectivity and empathy.
A second role tells us about an extremely common aspect in those who have been trained such as press or media photographs, it is the role of “reporter” who places the emphasis on communicating a story that is generally in development, for this reason there is not always an analysis but if a wide collection of information, data and testimonies, which contribute with various visions to a finished situation, is a recount of the facts, this artist consciously seeks the ideal image to convey each part of the story you want to report.
The role of the artist as an “analyst” is proposed, an aspect very different from the previous roles, since as the aforementioned author quotes “When artists begin to analyze situations social skills through their art, they take on skills more commonly associated with social scientists and investigative journalists. ” (Lacy 2003, 37). This posture in front of situation, helps the public change their approach from the aesthetic to the transforming of a reality, the image under this gaze acquires more a textual value than an aesthetic one, conveys a deep message beyond the technique used, in fact the aesthetic value is used, if relevant, as an aspect of analysis but not as the main objective from work.
The fourth role proposed, I personally think that it is one of the fundamental aspects of photographic work, this is the role of “activist”, in this particularly “making art contextualized within local, national and global situations, and the audience is active in some way ”(Lacy 2003, 37). This is an invitation to generate a question or a response to a certain situation, is the power of the artist to remove and attract consciences around struggles, generally social and community, in some cases individual as well, but almost always refer to collective contexts.
These photographic artists have developed skills beyond photographic aesthetics and of work in a studio, has been concerned with understanding the reality, policies and institutional framework, relations between the different actors, as well as public agendas and proposals on which you can act. The challenge is to learn new strategies and generate constant changes, as well as impact with their works to different audiences, achieve effective communication, choose public places with meaning and transcendence, working for collective and public meaning, especially in the framework of social problems. The artist as an activist, builds networks around his themes of interest and at the same time proposes actions to generate progress and make visible circumstances specific.
And, a fifth role proposed is that of the artist as a citizen, explained as “making art as an exercise of citizenship ”(López, cited in Lacy 2003, 37). They are artists who work in concert with the community and the state, where possible, otherwise they will always be close to the community, in their intimate spaces, taking advantage of and sharing in community life both in urban and rural spaces, this art it is strengthened in collective processes, it is taught and learned, it is strengthened in spaces educational and generates a new objective for the artist and his processes, determining that These processes are indispensable for the work of art, the artist is then a “spokesperson public ”, an active part of a community.
The roles cited and explained above, realize the importance of posture in front of a topic and the generation of results from it, without specifying that one of these roles is more or less important than another, or that one is more or less valued than another, the life of the visual artist in photography can pass through all these roles, perhaps experiencing more than one at a time or probably understanding one, learning from another, proposing in another and positioning in another, beyond this positioning, photography does not have a single exercise, nor a universal gaze of the person who takes the picture. image behind the camera, subjectivities and experiences will always come into play, they will always be seen through artistic works.
It is worth noting then in that artistic task, it is pertinent to look at the actions and struggles being part of them or just being the one who photographs, some people will say, “it’s likely to interfere in a situation, be part of it and feel it as their own ” could remove objectivity, however according to the position from which it is approached Rather, it generates unique contributions that only that person can make and that only the experience can give the necessary content and significance. Beyond this, it is evident that according to the position taken by the photographic visual artist, their processes and products will be different.
So I ask, is it perhaps the mission of the photographer, to take photographs, to generate aesthetic products, using lights and shadows in a masterful way, making use of the technology of point, or is it perhaps contributing to the fact that reality is understood, transformed, transmitted and that the causes of the collectives are worthy of supporting? Is it our mission to be happy with what makes us happy, being alien to the reality of the rest, that although we do not know, we also have to see? Is it doing for me and for me or doing for others and with the rest? What do we want our exercise in photography to be?
The artist, photographer and photographer has in her process of formation and growth as artist, is born, creates and understands that there are paths to travel from art as expression, improves and polishes his art, until reaching art as a factor of social change, even far beyond your control. It is the invitation to make conscious art, which integrates creativity and the ability to transform an artistic exercise with the condition of citizen and their desire to contribute and contribute, beyond the voices against or in favor of This proposal is the introspective exercise and self-analysis on “what am I achieving with the art that I produce?
So I repeat the same question asked at the beginning of this article, really there is some difference if the photograph is taken by someone from the community LGBTIQ + or someone who is not? It is clear that they are, not because they are or are not, but because of their position political and experiential regarding the issue, which is not the same if one is part of the community LGBTIQ + or not, let’s put aside the simplistic image analysis, as ever listen “there is no difference if a photographer does it, because yes, there is difference, for those who are really interested in knowing the complexity and comprehensiveness of a photographic work and its process, there is a lot and very evident. This is an invitation to look at, understand, and analyze photography beyond the image. Finally, I allow myself to place this last reflection: “if photography is not an interaction deep, then it’s nothing … “
References – Lacy, Suzanne. “Make public art. As a collective memory, as a metaphor and as action. ” In Pilar Riaño Alcalá, editor, Art, Memory and Violence: Reflections on the City (Medellín, Colombia: Corporación REGIÓN, 2003) pp. 31-41.
February 2024