A Record of “Lesbian Bedrooms”: An Interview with Photographer Kyle Lasky – NMP

 

NMP interviews the amazing artist and photographer, Kyle Lasky…

NMP: You have said that your Lesbian Bedrooms II series, which examines the instability of lesbian identity, was inspired by your own shifting identity. What inspired the first series, Lesbian Bedrooms I?

Kyle Lasky: I think my interest behind Lesbian Bedrooms I was fairly uncomplicated. At that time, I was mostly concerned with exposing the “lesbian bedroom” as nothing more than a bedroom of a lesbian. I wanted to normalize the intimacy that passed between lesbians, as well as look at the completeness of that life. After I transitioned away from a visibly lesbian appearance, I felt compelled to revisit the series. My experiences of living as male, while still identifying very much as a butch lesbian, have been so strange and conflicting, and in Lesbian Bedrooms II, I wanted to address some of them. I also wanted to look beyond my own trans-masculine perspective, at some of the other lesbian-identified people who might feel overlooked. A traditional notion of lesbian identity is so rooted in this idea of “women-born-women-loving-women”, and for me that is a problem. For so many of us, that is a problem. My own lesbian identity is very much about a history of feminism, and a history of celebrating and identifying with women. My lesbian identity is not so much a sexual orientation, but a political orientation. With Lesbian Bedrooms II, I wanted to discuss this instability, and confront viewers with images of people who may not be immediately recognized as lesbians, but are defined as such by the body of work.

NMP: Who are the subjects in your photos? How did you reach and select them?

KL: The subjects of my photos are mostly my friends, though I did put out an open call for Lesbian Bedrooms II. I am fortunate enough to be part of a really inspiring queer and art scene, and most of the people I approached about the project understood it immediately. I felt very cautious about directly asking people to participate, as I didn’t want anyone to feel I was undermining or projecting something that was counter to their own identity. But when I positioned myself in the project, and explained my personal connection to a lesbian identity, people were surprisingly responsive.

NMP: The theme of this issue is Record. How important do you think it is to capture lesbian subjects in personal/intimate spaces, such as the bedroom? Why a bedroom series in particular?

KL: I am very into in the recording and archiving of lesbian life. It’s a major interest of mine. I think the bedroom is sort of like a keystone in queer documentation, but I’m interested also, in the more mundane aspects of a queer experience. I think it is very important to document our experiences as we engage with different layers of identity in contemporary queer culture, so our stories can be carried on into the future.

NMP: A lot of your work examines perceptions of gender. Whose perceptions are you focusing on?

KL: I think it varies from piece to piece. For example, Lesbian Bedrooms I focuses mostly on the public’s perception of (lesbian) sexuality, where as Lesbian Bedrooms II is much more about the intersections of personal and public gender perceptions. In Names, a self-portrait triptych I did in 2011, I was also concerned with these intersections.

NMP: Do you plan on continuing this series?

KL: I definitely plan to continue the series. In no way do I feel like I have fully captured what I set out to with Lesbian Bedrooms II. There is a much broader scope of people that I want to include, and whenever Lesbian Bedrooms III does happen, I imagine it will also be informed by my own evolving experiences in self-identification.

NMP: You are often your own subject. Is it important for you to also record your own history alongside that of your community?

KL: When I make work about myself, that’s as close I come to keeping a diary. I have so many changing feelings, and I do think it is really important to document them, so that I can better understand where I am, and how I got here. My history is important to me, and hopefully it will resonate with someone else, and it will be important to them too.

* More of Kyle’s work can be seen at the “That’s So Gay” Exhibit – curated by Sholem Krishtalka at the Gladstone Hotel from June 6 – July 29, 2012.

Born to an artist and a yogi, Kyle Lasky grew up in the redwoods on the coast of Northern California. Kyle is an American artist living in Toronto, Canada. Their work often deals with themes of gender, identity, feminism, and queerness.

Currently pursing a BFA in Photography, Kyle also works in video and collage. Recent exhibitions include: That’s So Gay at The Gladstone Hotel, Maximum Exposure (won Best In Show) at The Gladstone Hotel, and Presence in Absence (solo show) at Come As You Are. http://www.kylelasky.com/