|Self-portrait (truck) 2012|
A spontaneous trip to the small but perfectly formed gallery threw up a wonderful treat for us to enjoy. The photographs were stunning. It was an exhibition I had not planned to see, but am delighted to have done so.
Jess' work speaks volumes to me without saying a word. Her engagement with her subjects gently invites her audience's participation without making any demands.
It is powerful and provocative, threatening nothing except a preconception. It is challenging but throws down no gauntlets. It is as though she intended any consequences to be thoroughly conscious and wholly consensual.
Art is the sex of the imagination
George Jean Nathan
|Jess and Vanessa, 2013|
The images are, I think, a wonderfully colourful depiction of gender, sexuality and love. The fluidity of each concept is given vast space to find both shape and form, and you can make of that what you will. I stood back, and then came forward, relating to what it was I saw at first glance, before meeting the subjects, as though for a second time.
The encounter was as enthralling as it was refreshing. I could have stayed much longer, were it not for the aggressive air conditioning. The images invited a dialogue that continued long after we left. They had inspired and uplifted.
Dugan makes bold statements gently. The subjects have been captured as possessing something I know to be terribly rare and frighteningly precious: they seemed blissfully and universally comfortable inhabiting their own skin. They are true to themselves, and request to be met right there.
Artist's statement for the exhibition
Every breath we drew (2011- )
Every breath we drew explores the power of identity, desire, and connection through portraits of myself and others. Working within the framework of queer experience and from my actively constructed sense of masculinity, my portraits examine the intersection between private, individual identity and the search for intimate connection with others. I photograph people in their homes, often in their bedrooms, using medium and large format cameras to create a deep, sustained engagement, resulting in an intimate and detailed portrait.
I combine formal portraits, images of couples, self-portraits, and photographs of my own romantic relationship to investigate broader themes of identity and connection while also speaking to my private, individual experience. The photographs of men and masculine individuals act as a kind of mirror; they depict the type of gentle masculinity I am attracted to, yet also the kind I want to embody. Similarly, the photographs of relationships speak to a drive to be seen, understood, and desired through the eyes of a another person; a reflection of the self as the ultimate intimate connection.
By asking others to be vulnerable with me through the act of being photographed, I am laying claim to what I find beautiful and powerful while asking larger questions about how identity is formed, desire is expressed, and intimate connection is sought.
|Background: Self-portrait (muscle shirt) 2013|