Matt Storm: Act of Looking
Photographer Matt Storm reveals the intentions for his project, Act of Looking, in his statement, “I’m transgender. I rarely see bodies like mine, represented in photography and art. Sometimes, I see images of transgender people, made by non-transgender artists, for non-transgender audiences, and they feel disappointingly flat.” I am a big believer that the most empowering action we can do to create understanding and empathy is to simply see each other. This humanizing act can be revelatory. And in the case of a transgender person, the act of looking is a two way experience, as the subject allows the world to see them anew, while they consider their own changing reflection.
Matt is a recipient of the 2020 Arts and Humanities Fellowship fromthe city of the District of Columbia. He currently has work in the exhibition, My Queer Valentine, at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, curated by Andy Johnson, Alexandria, VA. January 25 – March 8, 2020. Opening reception & party Friday, February 14, 7-10 pm, wheelchair accessible. Matt will be giving an Artist talk, Photography Stories with curator Liz Faust, at Full Circle Photo in Baltimore, MD, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. Not wheelchair accessible. He is also serving as a career mentor for undergraduate photography students at the 2020 Society for Photographic Education national conference, March 5-8, Houston, TX. (Interested parties can sign up for career mentoring on-site at the conference).
Matt Storm is a photo-based artist in Washington, D.C. His work engages with the theme of identity and the question “who are we, and how do we know?” He approaches this through portraiture, and his imagery includes transgender and queer issues, family, and community. Storm is a 2020 recipient of the Arts & Humanities Fellowship (AHFP) from the Washington, D.C. Commision on the Arts & Humanities. Storm serves on the leadership team of the LGBTQ Caucus of the Society for Photographic Education, and he is one of the inaugural artists at STABLE Arts in D.C. Highly involved in Washington D.C.’s transgender community, Storm recently curated a large, extended show of work from artists in the community. Storm has shown work at The Corcoran School of Art at George Washington University, Dartmouth College, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Somerville Media Center, Greater Reston Arts Center, and Filter Photo, among other venues. Storm graduated Dartmouth College cum laude with a BA in Studio Art, and with the Perspectives on Design Award. Storm has worked in Dartmouth College’s art department, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the Marpha Foundation in Nepal.
Act of Looking
These images are self-portraits from my “Act of Looking” series.
I’m transgender. I rarely see bodies like mine, represented in photography and art. Sometimes, I see images of transgender people, made by non-transgender artists, for non-transgender audiences, and they feel disappointingly flat.
My body is incongruous with how we are taught to see bodies. Really, all of our bodies are. We are all more complex than we should hope to overcome.
I began this series in 2017, in order to create an expanded lexicon of ways to see a body, inclusive of ways to see mine. I return to the same studio in Provincetown, Massachusetts each year to take the initial images.
I use a tripod, a ten-second timer, and natural light. Some poses are especially physical – this is about being a self with a body, and the physical manifestation of my body is a significant part of my lived experience. Other poses reference ways that US americans learn to see bodies, including classical sculpture, renaissance painting, sports, and advertising.
These images first existed as framed photographs, participating in the traditions of portraiture, documentation, and nudes. As I began showing these more widely, I realized that some needed to be bodies themselves, in the same room as the viewer and more complex to consume, and I began creating human-scale fabric installations. By existing in real space, rather than as something to be observed in a frame, these installations embody the divergence between a
theoretical identity, and the complex lived experience of a person in a body.
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