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“We Exist”: Queer Photographic Nationalism(s) in Canada and Denmark

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“We Exist”: Queer Photographic Nationalism(s) in Canada and Denmark

Glenn, Clinton (2016) “We Exist”: Queer Photographic Nationalism(s) in Canada and Denmark. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis looks at the history of photography to examine how criminal and medical science has depicted bodies deemed deviant, and the ways in which queer bodies have been variously categorised and marginalised. I take two contemporary case studies as a way to address this complex and contradictory history, focusing on two major themes: photography as an apparatus of power, and queerness as continuously in flux and unstable. Contemporary photographers Charlotte Haslund-Christensen and JJ Levine respond to this history by subverting the relationship between photographer and subject, creating alternative visualisations of queer identities. Haslund-Christensen’s WHO’S NEXT? features forty-two photographs mimicking the visual composition of criminal mug-shots.. Levine’s Queer Portraits, taken over nine years from 2006 to 2015, focuses on queer-identified individuals within the domestic sphere. Both series respond to the marginalisation of LGBTQ people in photographic history while staking out very different territory: WHO’S NEXT?, arguing against complacency in the face of potential state violence; and, Queer Portraits, depicting alternative queer existences and social spaces.

This thesis is divided into two parts, the first focusing on the history of photography and its use in categorising and documenting deviancy. In this, I argue that the camera as an apparatus of power produces the deviant bodies it claims to document. In searching for non-normative sexualities one must, as Dana Seitler notes, be attentive to both the absences in the visual record and archives that may not immediately be understood as queer. In part two, I focus on contemporary queer theory, in particular its political bent towards leftist, anti-capitalist politics. Here I question how the normalisation of LGBTQ individuals in western neoliberal states has been positioned as politically regressive versus queer activism, which advocates for alternative forms of social and political relationships framed outside of heteropatriarchy.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Glenn, Clinton
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:July 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):Potvin, John
ID Code:981772
Deposited By: CLINTON GLENN
Deposited On:08 Nov 2016 19:55
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:53

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