Burials: Photography by Sean M. Johnson
Friday, June 2 at 6:00pm 8:00pm
Pushdot Studio 2505 S.E. 11th Ave., Suite 104, Portland, OR 97202
One of the most significant and sacred rituals shared across cultures is the preparation of the dead to journey from this world to the next. A burial is a common expression of this practice. Depending on the custom, bodies may be adorned, cleansed, safeguarded or otherwise meticulously prepared for the transition to the afterlife, which is often idealized as a new existence of abundant bliss or spiritual fulfillment.
Individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ are members of a global community that is marginalized or condemned in many cultures and religions. In response to this pervasive social disparagement, many people who are queer develop extensive fantasy worlds in which they can exist in a peace and form of their own making.
Artist Sean M. Johnson seeks to create a dialogue that explores these individual ideologies of desire, loss, liminality, release and hope through the expression of queer fantasy. His focus on the burial ritual creates space for the models’ idealized worlds and the selves they could be without the stigmas placed on queer people in the world outside the photograph.
Each piece was created in collaboration between the artist and his subjects, who are all LGBTQIA+ identified artists themselves. The images are grounded in the personal visions of those pictured, and while the metaphor of the burial may invoke morbidity and solemnity, the portraits are equally celebratory and unifying. These realms are intimate explorations of selfhood, and for the artist, Burials is a way to contemplate the desire to become in our imaginations what we cannot be or obtain in our everyday lives.
This series of Burials is generously funded by a project grant from the Regional Arts & Cultural Council.