About two months ago I found this post on Slog (the Stranger’s blog). It linked me to this student artist from Bringham Young University’s blog. It is a simple concept–each piece is an image of a gay student and someone who supports him/her. There is no “this is the gay one” caption.
Not only are the images themselves touching and well crafted, but their collective impact is impressive. The artist writes that he was inspired by the pervasive negation of identity he and his friends were surviving at Brigham Young. He was reacting to the message that “there are no gay students at Bringham Young University”. He found a way to make an impact.
This concept, of challenging assumptions using portraiture, has been rolling around my mind since I saw the images on his blog. Where can I use it? Who do I want to profile? What assumptions are important for me to challenge?
I was thinking of working it into my photography display I am planning as part of my trip to CMU Qatar campus in a few weeks. But, other than the abstract concept that I would like to show students at CMU-P that students at CMU-Q normal–or, more accurately, as spectacularly brilliant as students at CMU-P but also as spectacularly human.
But I must say I am quite terrified of appearing “anthropological” in my photography in Qatar. That is, making my CMU-Q peers feel like I feel like I have the authority to represent them. Which is why I am asking students from CMU-Q to contribute images for the display, but, even so, I am not sure if this kind of portrait project would fly (as some point someone said that students at CMU-Q might not want their pictures taken for religious/cultural/ethical reasons). So I am not sure if a portrait project would be practical or even advisable.
But I do so love the impact this show had on me, so I will try for something similar in my own up-coming exhibition.
“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money” – Alexis de Tocqueville