Queer Brighton, A Photo Essay
By OUTTraveler Contributer
?In 2010 celebrated English photographer and curator Martin Parr invited Seattle-based photographer Molly Landreth to create "A Portrait of Queer Life in Brighton" for the Brighton Photo Biennial. With only a week to photograph 20 individuals and showcase the work, Landreth felt like she was on a reality show. "It was the most challenging and rewarding thing I have ever done!"
The series stands like an campily upbeat, meditative adjunct to Parr's own seminal (and controversial) 1986 book The Last Resort, which documented the trashy allure of the fading seaside town.
"The people of Brighton have a performative, vintage aesthetic that is playful, friendly and creative," says Landreth, who called on subjects to dress as "who they are or who they want to become" and share their favorite locations in the city. The result: folks in vintage sailor suits, velvet goth capes, top hats, white gloves, leather harnesses and bowties wanting to pose at the the Pier, The Palace, and the Royal Hotel.
"The steampunk movement seems like it grew from this Victorian seaside town," explains Landreth, "which developed the largest LGBTQ population in all of England as a result of the sailors who docked there during the war. It?s a salty seaside city bursting at the seams with creative queer energy, fish 'n' chip baskets, and carnival rides. It was small enough that I walked to every one of my shoots (with the exception of the Pride day campground at Devils Dyke FarmI kid you not) and friendly enough that I left with new friends and more than a few beers on the house."
Queer Brighton is a sister project to Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America, begun in 2005 as the first-ever comprehensive photographic survey to approach the LGBTQ community in all its multi-faceted labels, cliques and stereotypes, offering up a brave new visions of what it means to be "queer" today. (View her photo of Jim and Rob from our Feb 2010 Love Issue, here.)
Visit MollyLandreth.com for more info on how to create a portrait of queer life in your own town.