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.
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.