Kris Sanford: Through the Lens of Desire
I recently watched a documentary on Tab Hunter that described his closeted life in Hollywood and revealed the complexity and difficulty of hiding who he was. Every part of his life was scrutinized under the klieg lights. Photographer Kris Stanford’s project, Through the Lens of Desire, contemplates hidden relationships in vernacular photographs seen through gestures, touch, and proximity. It’s a powerful series in its simplicity, allowing the viewer to ponder the possibilities of those subtle gestures. Kris opens a solo exhibition of Through the Lens of Desire from June 15 – July 24, 2016, at the Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York, NY.
Kris grew up in southeast Michigan and received a BFA in photography from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. She received her MFA in photography from Arizona State University, where she served as art editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review. She is currently an assistant professor at Central Michigan University. Kris has exhibited her work internationally, including group exhibitions in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Miami, and New York. In 2010, she was awarded a Contemporary Forum Artist Grant from the Phoenix Art Museum. Kris has received several awards for her latest project, Through the Lens of Desire, and was selected as a finalist for the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2015. She is represented by Catherine Couturier Gallery in Houston, Texas and Tilt Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her art explores intimate relationships, specifically queer desire, through the use of appropriated images and text.
Relationships, real or imagined, are at the center of this work. Growing up queer, I searched for a history that spoke to me—included me. In my family history, there were no couples that mirrored my own intimate relationships. That didn’t keep me from imagining such couples. Through the Lens of Desire creates implied narratives using snapshots from the 1920’s- 1950’s. Vernacular photographs from that era were created as private keepsakes and the unselfconscious intimacy they depict feels authentic and relatable. As modern viewers, we witness personal moments that were never intended to be public. By purposefully selecting images that picture men together and women together I am creating an imaginary queer past. I am drawn to the subtle points of contact and the spaces between the figures pictured. Each gesture or distracted glance holds a story, and it is these stories that reflect my own desire and experiences. This project brings a contemporary rereading to old photographs to address sexuality and relationships in a subtle way. My images are works of fiction, where I project my own dreams onto moments from the past.
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