Associates by Joseph Brennan

By Katie Winten

I recently attended a feminist conference where there was a workshop on how to support the LGBTQI+ community. When announcing the workshop, the organiser requested that everyone who identified with “the acronym” congregate in a certain room.

Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer/Intersex may be a mouthful. But to not even attempt to address the diversity of the LGBTQI+ community, instead condensing the complexity of sexual identity to “the acronym” seemed demeaning and oppressive. In the grand scheme of otherisation, that moment was miniscule. But what it signified was a continual misunderstanding of LGBTQI+ culture.

For photographer Joseph Brennan, the complexity of the LGBTQI+ community forms the crux of his work. The connection between photographer and subject can represent the most intimate of relations; a private dialogue which often reveals the intricacies of an individual’s identity. Brennan’s work represents a delicate balance between the notion of belonging, and of identification – but also the fluidity in spaces that exist between binaries and labels.

The people photographed appear casual, portrayed comfortably on their own terms. This rejection of performativity depicts Brennan’s desire to capture LQBTQI+ people as they are, rather than as society often frames them. According to Brennan,

This is intended to contradict a hackneyed academic obsession with framing queer photography’s project as being the ‘destabilisation of meaning’, or ‘the challenging of essential categories’, a reading that at times falsely synthesises diverse queer identities with the ‘hyper-weird’, extreme stylisation of a hetero-normative gaze. In contrast, the queered meaning of this series is – to use naïve words – fixed – not out of naïve idealism but rather through mutual respect and understanding.

Brennan’s work is inseparable from his lived experience. He intends to continue this series, documenting his friends and acquaintances indefinitely. With Sydney’s lockout laws increasingly putting strain on safe spaces, Brennan’s photographs are a reminder of the importance in ensuring the visibility of the LGBTQI+ community.

Associates by Joseph Brennan is showing at Goodspace for one night only:
WHEN: 03/08/16, 6 – 8pm
WHERE: Goodspace Gallery
Above the Lord Gladstone Hotel
115 Regent St, Chippendale


Api and Jonno (1)

‘Api and Jonno’, 2016
Inkjet print
40 x 50cm, edition of 4
Top image:
‘Chloe’, 2015
Inkjet print
40 x 50cm, edition of 4
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