Began in late summer 2015, The Forest is a conscious departure from masculinity and modernity, both in medium and in subject matter. My subjects are my contemporaries, from my global community of young artists (most of them queer) using their bodies for self-expression, uniquely connected in the digital age through social media. Recent puritanical legislation around the globe has inhibited how we connect and share our work online, but we continue to create undeterred.
I myself am the subject of many of the photographs I’ve taken in the forest throughout the years, and over time as my connection to the place grows with every visit, the forest itself has taken on it’s own character, as representative of me and my care for my community in those photos in which I don’t appear.
Being from the same community we are allowed an immediate level of familiarity and intimacy that other (typically male) artists aren’t privy to. We are nude, but it is an unselfconscious and primordial nudity, reclaimed from the male gaze and with a softness and intimacy to the images rarely captured in a male lens. We are in nature and a part of it; we aren’t conquerors of the natural world, we are skyclad witches and exultant earth goddesses in communion with nature, vulnerable yet unafraid. We remain people, as unique and individual as the forest itself, not anonymous figures bereft of identity. We are willing collaborators and active participants, captured with the ritual alchemy of analogue photography, enveloped by and embracing our surroundings in a shared communion.
The timelessness of the setting is complemented by the medium; black and white film, processed and printed by hand. The final prints are not airbrushed, drawing attention to the tactile and physical qualities of the images as objects, in an age where photography is everywhere yet mostly incorporeal and ephemeral. The texture of the film grain echoes the unadulterated skin textures; the irregularities of analogue processes reflecting the natural imperfections of we the subjects and the environment.
The images of The Forest are an expression of freedom, defiance, community and of liberation of spirit, continuing a tradition stretching back generations.