all images copyright kate levy 2011. all rights reserved. use of images is strictly prohibited without express consent of author.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ode to water on the lens

I had been in front of the computer all day, so I ventured out with my girlfriend to take some pictures late last night. She's asking all these insightful questions about trapping energy in shadows, and awestruck by the snow, while I'll I can do is think about how fucking frustrated I am with the snow flying sideways and hitting the lens.

Mackinac Last Week

Summer resort, Grand Hotel's Dining Room holds porch geranium boxes. The Duck spent years of winters fixing furniture for the hotel. Some people have claimed that Indians were buried under the grand, and were later exhumed without care. This has been proven untrue. There are many graves scattered haphazardly around the island; in the winter, it was impossible to dig graves. However, the Grand Hotel doesn't seem to be one of them. 

I've been playing with this body for a few years. For a while, I made ghost images of myself and others in various points of interest on the island--places where myth has transformed with history, mainly the history of clashing cultures. I would juxtapose fake indian paraphernalia, reproduction flags, and toy artifacts into the images, referencing the plasticizing of legend brought forth by its maleable nature. Using the idea of ghost to symbolize Mackinac as a place that literally repeats history, I was exploring the change that explore ultimately the nature of our lives while we create and repeat legacy.  I see the work as a brainstorming session for the body which will at some point contain some of the images below.

George Wellington, Sr., the only taxi driver in the winter. A taxi on Mackinac Island is a horse-drawn carrige.

A workshop at an island barn, taxi carriage shaft is hanging for refinishing.

Don "The Duck" Andress, 6x great grandson of Chief Mackinac.

Luggage carts and awards left for the season at the Grand Hotel bellstand.

Sitting at the table with Becky Gallagher and Jen Bunker, reading about and poking fun at the big chiefs in the newspaper. 

Johnny Ray and his "Hits of Johnny Ray" tape.

Albert Mosley riding bikes in his backyard. Was adopted at age two with his two brothers into a family making nine (The fam has since grown to eleven with the addition of a grandson and a fiance).  His mother runs a daycare out of her house.

Duck, Gizmo and Teddy Ruxpin.

Bobby Roach hangs out at the barn after work.

The Duck with his hand-made walking sticks, one of which is in the Smithsonian American Indian Museum.

George Wellington and the number 3.

In this work, I am channeling some of those ideas as a lens to explore the resident culture on the island. Of particular interest to me is the Chippewa community, and the people who have resided on the island for generations. I hope that through this body of work, I can apply the idea of myth transforming history and events transforming myth to Native American history.

This year, the old structure called the Indian Dormitory will become the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Island Art Museum. (Whether or not the structure ever served as an actual dormitory is highly debatable.)  Also of interest in this project to expose tourists to a side of the island that isn't marketed as a commodity. Through the eventual exhibition (and hopefully coffee table book) of these images, a strange commodification occurs.  I am seeking to probe both the nature and novelty of residing on a tourist island that is closed for half the year, exploring the reality of a place built on the subfloors of historical legacy.

I intend for this project to seep into a much larger project about the lives of proclaimed Native Americans in the present day, so any feedback or leads would be greatly appreciate. 
also--PLEASE CRITICIZE!! To see more images like this from the island, click here

Just between Friend

Sunday Beer Bust. I'd never been to it. I don't really go out more than once or twice a month on my own volition. Aside from photographic endeavors, I'm a homebody. I usually sit at home grilling on my computer, while all four of my self-employed or student roomates shuffle around me. Lots of people come over to hang out. But I usually just sit there on my computer. 
I go through phases, and I'm not always like that. Just recently. I'm not a total potato. I like to snowboard, hike, cook, have sex too. And I just made myself get up and help my roommage cook breakfast. 
Yet, I find myself making myself not think about photography. I'm sure that if the universe would grant me with a part-time job (and by the universe, I mean that i'm sure its just me), i wouldn't think about photographing so much, because I wouldn't be dependent on it to eat (okay that's not true--my friends and family have always been really helpful with that, but i am most certainly dependent on photography to feel as though i am making a contribution).
I'm being facetious. Or not.
So when I go out to photograph, I am usually awestruck by the superfluous world happening outside of me. Its a bit patronizing on my end, I'll admit. Luckily I do have some party experience. I'm don't have an appreciation for raging nightlife like I do sweeping landscapes and meticulously crafted wine; however, there is a great cultural motivation ingrained in the art of social planning--the integration of technology, activism and the repetition of generational patterns of saying "fuck you," to name a few. So when I went to the Wrangler, shot for a while, I wasn't exactly surprised to hear that more than one of the patrons was, shall we say, taken off guard. Historically, gays have not had the most pleasant experience with cameras, as it has not traditionally been in a gay person's best interest to be photographed. Outing in the press has long undergone scrutiny on all sides of the spectrum, ever begging the question of the benefits and drawbacks of outing as a form of social honesty. The head security guard was apprehensive about the individuals who may be seen, and who may lose their job, so I immediately agreed to only show the images of consenting people; while I do believe that showing gays in mainstream media can do a whole lot to enlighten and desensitize the discriminating population, I don't believe that one person's livelihood is worth the fight started by someone else. I also question the benefits of having a clear motive to "show the gay lifestyle." When the primary motive is to show, what else is there to show? And showing particular behaviors like drinking, dancing and looking pretty without a comprehensive glimpse on gay lifestyle if there were one has potential to perpetuate a stereotype to the non-gay world, but this argument is based on the acceptance that there should be a gay world and a non-gay world. At the end of the day, although I admittedly love the camaraderie and exclusivity, I just don't believe in the segregation. Further, I see every shooting endeavor as a way to show the subject to themselves. Its far more important to me to feed a culture back to itself than it is to fit it into something outside of that entity. But if I had it my way, we'd be outside all of the time. But the world is the way it is. 
So I am going to do two things with the photos below:
show you a some of the personal work I've been doing with my friends, who happen to be big, fat homos too, as well as some outake photos from the Wrangler. Click on 'em if you want to see them larger. Just please excuse my slip ups in watermarking and don't take 'em without permission :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

St Paddys Gay

So, what does it actually mean when you say you are Irish?
And what does it mean when you get married?

Working on these photographs from St. Patricks day, I question the creation of and exploitation of the identities to which we expose ourselves. Gay boys are fun to do that with. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Her Bar

welcome to denver.
depleting and replenishing lesbian community--coming and going.

jody b used to be a bartender at the Wave back in the early part of this century. recall?
she worked at the Detour for a while, before that building got sold.
Then, she started this bomb ass coffee bar--There. Her latest entrepreneurial venture: to sustain a lesbian bar in denver.
Jody put together this bar that just keeps getting better, and it appears to be here to stay. And the women just keep getting hotter.
I'm will be shooting Her bar and There Coffee  monthly thanks to Jody's desire to invite artists from the community into the good life.
Here are some shots from the first go at it:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Anniversary First Friday

For the first time, I shot Babes Around Denver First Friday for Westword, as well as for Dede Frain, the creator of the women's party. Have a look at the images Westword used here.

Here are a few shots; also check out all of them on Flickr