Our terminology may have not, but queer bodies have existed since the beginning of humankind. And queer bodies have found representation through photographs since the beginning of this light-and-life-capturing medium. Most of these older traces of norm-shaking, thriving realities had to be found again. Lots were erased from family histories. Some were shown for decades with their queer truths lost in the eyes of their beholders.
Meaningful gestures and items, bodily landscapes and thought-out relational compositions – hints at queerness hardly comprehended without shared lived experiences. Often flying under the radar. Sometimes as apparent as hitting you like a ton of bricks. Photographs which make reality feel real. Images – one at a time – recording queer love, queer hurt or queer joy for eternity.
From pictures of loving couples taken in photo booths, eliminating the need for a knowing photographer, to still lifes of fruits, vases and memorabilia, to keepsakes and artistic creations presenting garlands of violets, lavender and green arnation, showing telling postures, hands, beltside key rings, tattoos and scars healing whole biographies, rays of light and color combinations, laced-up boots and antique statues. Queer semiotics have emerged and evolved. Codes have become manifold. An ever-expanding visual language has been created. Yet still it often remains undiscovered by the wider public.
While the portrait has become one of the dominating means of expressing queerness in photography, many artists have chosen more abstract routes to investigate issues of identity in their work. Especially when imaging the non-binary, abstraction opens up new possibilities for permanently gendered bodies. No matter how concrete the form: there can be queerness stored and found in everything.
Depictions of societies as (mal-)functioning organisms, the individual and the collective bending their bodies of resistance, or pictures leaving the body behind the camera but bringing their issues to the forefront. Let us find immortality together through the analogue, the digital, the concrete, the abstract – the queer photography of 2023, of before, now and after.
Apply now. We would especially like to encourage people experiencing marginalization within our communities to submit their projects. Non-Eurocentric perspectives are very welcome.
Queer Festival Heidelberg is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 in Heidelberg, Germany. Professional and amateur photographers are invited to submit a solo or group project. Projects may contain 10-15 photos and must have the contests title „Bodily Autonomies“ as a central theme. Judging criteria are originality, composition, expression of theme and personal expression. The winners projects / works will be shown in different exhibitions and locations during the festival month of May 2023 in the city of Heidelberg, as well as in a timeless digital version of the exhibition on https://queer-festival.com. Queer Festival Heidelberg is also currently working on potentially showing the exhibition at further European Queer Festivals.
Please feel free to contact us.