Monday, December 14, 2009

Exhibition: One on One Project. Photography By Ted Kerr, Curatorial Statement by QC Gu

AIDS ripped apart the sexual psyches of a whole generation of queer men. It ripped apart mine, and I was a baby still when the death counts began to grow. Shrouded in silence, thousands of queer men went to the grave afraid, clothed, and hidden.

I was in my teenage years when the memories started to come. In the lamp-lit glow of my bedroom, stories from the darkness weaved their way into my life. Books, movies and photographs all pointed in one direction – the gay man was first and foremost a diseased man. That would mean, of course, that I was a diseased man.

Sex and AIDS became synonymous, and as hard as I tried to separate them, the chains seemed impossible. Fear wrapped its heavy hand around me and I carried the burden of AIDS upon my shoulders.

AIDS ripped us apart. Collectively, we can stitch ourselves together again. I think it’s time that I stitched myself together again.

In Ted Kerr’s Polaroids, the men are strong and vulnerable; they are timid and powerful. They appear to us clothed yet naked. They are fantasies rooted in reality. These photos show men finally embracing their bodies and standing in true sexual empowerment.

In the words of Eric Rofes, “For many gay men, the [HIV] epidemic has mutilated our identities, profoundly warped sexuality and intimate relations, and reaffirmed subconscious linkages between homosexuality and contagion.” Kerr’s photographs offer a departure from this AIDS devastated psyche; they present the possibility of safety, intimacy and strength in the midst of a world where HIV and AIDS continue to be a reality.

AIDS is not over, but we don’t need to be afraid anymore. Instead we should be standing naked and queer before the world shouting “This is my body. Witness me!”

It’s time to stand strong in our sexualities. It’s time to make love again courageously through the night. Let us heal our wounds and love our scars. Let us embrace ourselves and each other.

It is with great honor and pride that we present to you the One on One Project by Edmonton photographer, writer and artist, Ted Kerr.

QC Gu is HIV Edmonton's Gay Men’s Community Education Program Planner

Exhibited in Edmonton at Play Nightclub on November 29, 2009


Sheena said...

These photos kind of remind me of the American Apparel advertisements that are now forever etched into my mind thanks to VUE and SEE.

Not that American Apparel has a monopoly on men in underwear or anything.....I just don't make a connection between men in underwear and the concepts of "strong and vulnerable, timid and powerful".

What does the human body have to do with character or "queer" progress and empowerment?

"This is my body. Witness me!". It would be a much stronger statement it if it simply said, "Witness me! I am a human being!", along with non-posed moments of genuine power, vulnerability, empowerment, and timidness. But instead these men are pictured in a fairly stereotypical way.

The message confuses me, obviously. If it's only about embracing sexuality, then fine. But that's not what the artist statement says.

Overall, I do like some of the photos, and they did their job in that they evoked an emotion from me (though I don't think they were the "intended" emotions).

childlight said...

it was about sex; the liberation, and exploration of fetish. Now, looking forward, it is about love; building trust, healing, support, confidence, kindness, tenderness...

Two spirited/gay, is an exploration of the qualities of masculine and feminine embodied in a single individual towards love; and sex either a distraction or celebration of love. Stan. (childlight to my 'straight' friends who love me just for that)