I photograph burlesque performers and the community that they have created. As a photographer, this world is visually fascinating and inherently interesting. As an observer and witness, I am intrigued by the burlesque community's creativity, celebrations of all body types and genders, encouragement of innovation among performers, and motivations to perform -- of which remuneration is rarely an incentive.
What I find most intriguing as an analytical artist, furthermore, is that burlesque is a community that approaches the margins of cultural and performance aesthetics. In other words, these dedicated performers and personalities are not mainstream entertainers. The crowds can be sizable, but they are certainly not arena-sized. This is therefore an artistic form that exists because the performers themselves wish it to exist. Their dedication, and not funding from large ticket sales or arts grants, is the driving force for the growth and sustenance of the form.
My photographic work covers three main subject areas:
1. Burlesque in live performance
2. Burly performers in preparation backstage, offstage or post-performance
3. Person & Persona. This series of diptychs explores the essential duality of each performer. The first portrait of the pair is an environmental portrait of the performer as their quotidian self, as the “person” referenced in this section title. This photographic portrait will provide the context of whom the offstage person is, in an environment that is indicative of whom the individual is in ‘real life.’ The photographs are typically at the performer's home, although potentially at work or some other location of particular relevance to presenting a fully contextualized portrait of the person.
The second portrait is the person’s created stage persona in the persona’s fully realized personality and dynamic character. This portrait is not presented within context or environment, and is photographed on a plain mono-chromatic background. In this rendition, the persona is the sole and entire story of the photograph, excluding context to focus solely on the dynamism and creativity of the persona.
As diptychs, by their nature, Person & Persona explores the relationship of each on-stage persona with their 'real,' quotidian identity. Questions for the viewer to consider may be:
1.Is the relationship between the person and the persona a dichotomy or is the persona simply a magnification of the person who created him/her?
2.What role does the quotidian life of the person play in the creation of the stage persona?
3.What does the onstage persona fulfill for each performer? For example, is the persona a construction of fantasy of the self or an outlet unguarded by the constraints that may prevent day-to-day expression?
Final Thoughts: I invite inquiries regarding this work for exhibition and sales. I also invite inquiries from burly performers and companies around the world for participation in this exciting project. Please contact me at my e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and to talk. Thank you and I hope you enjoy the work.