October 22, 2012

Montreal’s JJ Levine Exhibits ‘Queer Portraits: 2010-2012’ at RATS9 Gallery

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Written by: Saturn
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10 Ali El Darsa 2012

A rare Montreal show, JJ Levine is currently exhibiting their Queer Portraits: 2010 – 2012 at RATS 9 Gallery. The exhibit explores complex notions of gender, sexuality and queer space, and is a continuation of Levine’s earlier Queer Portrait collections dating back to 2006.

Each portrait expresses a unique story. Each seemingly capturing some essential aspect of the model’s identity or life, their belongings and personal objects strewn around them; our notion of such is troubled however when we learn that while each photo is taken in a domestic setting, each are purposeful, chosen by the artist, a fabricated sense of home or queer space. 

Its not just about gayness, its about the radical queer persepective. [It’s] identity politics…not necessarily conforming and connecting with the mainstream ideas of gay and sexuality. There are many different ways of being trans. Many of us are not striving to fit in at all.

The portraits are powerful. They invite us to consider gender, and the accoutrements that can express it. They encourage us to approach and consider identity and community, and in many ways, the extenuating politics and ideas.

I got the oppurtunity to visit the vernissage held this past Friday night. The ambience was really festive and the open area venue was really worth climbing several flights of stairs for.

It was a celebration for the reknowned genderqueer artist who has been travelling for most of the year, showing at art galleries and publishing accross North America, Europe and in Asia.

About this exhibit and their work in general, Levine says: “Its not just about gayness, its about the radical queer persepective. [It’s] identity politics…not necessarily conforming and connecting with the mainstream ideas of gay and sexuality. There are many different ways of being trans. Many of us are not striving to fit in at all. “

Outside of their photography, the Montreal-based Levine also operates the widely-known Lesbian haircuts for everyone, a unique hair salon that they’ve been running for several years on Amherst and now on Ontario street. Levine graduated from Concordia University with a BFA majoring in Photography and a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies in Sexuality.

The photo exhibit, Queer Portraits: 2010 – 2012, will be running until November 5. You can find it at RATS9 Gallery, located at 372 St. Catherine West, Suite 530 (fifth floor) in downtown Montreal. The nearest station is McGill Metro. Entrance is free.

More information can be found on JJ’s website or on their Facebook Page.

About the Author

Saturn (a.k.a. SAT) is a freelance writer currently based in Montreal. His curiosity to know what's going on usually takes him to unexpected places bringing home a lot of interesting stories to share. His adventures also compelled him to pick up the pen and paper and start writing.



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  1. Nikki

    Oooh this looks wicked. Hope to be back in the city before this ends!!

  2. Saturn


    Hey Nikki! Yup, it definitely is wicked! Hope you can make it!
    Thanks for reading! Cheers!

  3. Long before I knew JJ, when I first visited Montreal I saw their expo Alone Time at Divers/cite ( and just loved it. Last year, I was so excited to learn more about them when they participated in artsida ( Looking forward to seeing this exhibit.

  4. Saturn


    Lucky you, I wish I was able to catch this sooner!
    Totally with you on this, the composition in these photos are stunning.

    I’m looking forward to check out ARTSIDA ’13 too, this is gonna be fun!

    Thanks for the tip on that events too, Erika! Cheers!

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