A new photo documentary exploring contemporary queer culture in the American South.
You can follow my research & planning leading up to the trip on the project's blog: Southoftheohio.tumblr.com!
As a gay photographer, I've long been documenting and sharing my experiences growing and living as a young gay man. This has taken me- and my camera- from drag queen dressing rooms to nightclub dance floors to making intimate portraits of friends and strangers. All the while I've developed a body of work that reflects my interests and adventures in queer America.
Now, I intend to spend several weeks this summer on the road, traveling the American South: going to LGBT events, bars, and community groups. Additionally, I'll be using online resources and social media to find subjects and new places to explore-- so if you have suggestions please contact me! I'm sure I'll need some help along the way.
I'm Christian Hendricks. I grew up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, OH, where I started taking pictures in high school.
Eventually, I enrolled in the photography program at Bowling Green State University. It was there that I first photographed drag shows, becoming particularly interested in a local, small-town bar that "turned gay" on Tuesday nights. Becoming a part of this community was what really inspired me to investigate and document queer culture in small communities. In the process, I became friends with several drag performers, and made a short documentary film and photo series for which I was awarded a fellowship from the Yale University School of Art in 2011.
Since graduating in 2012, I have continued to work in photography and video, taking on projects with organizations who address issues and stories relevant to queer culture, such as: I'm From Driftwood and The AIDS Lifecycle. I've been fortunate that these projects have allowed me to travel the country, but have always been interested in pursuing a longer trip by car, immersing myself in a documentary project.
Why The South?
Though my hometown of Cincinnati is in every sense a midwestern city, it serves as the gateway to the American South, sitting just across from the Ohio River, where the South (and my journey) begins.
I’m drawn to the South’s distinctive culture: a region that is famous for being both hospitable and intolerant. What is it like to be queer in a region with such conservative religious and political convictions? Are these just fading stereotypes from the past? I hope to answer these questions and more as I set out to meet people, immerse myself in communities, and develop a new, personal understanding that I can share through photography.
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I'll be traveling alone, and I have only a handful of contacts in the South, so I'll be challenged to meet new people and find places to document on my own. Through my projects I have become more and more confident in making portraits of people that I've only just met, but working in places where I have never been before will definitely be a learning experience in establishing personal connections through photography.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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