New Queer Photography: Showing What Love Means

Editor Benjamin Wolbergs Publisher Verlag Kettler

Words Tom Czibolya

New Queer Photography is a new book edited by Benjamin Wolbergs and published by Verlag Kettler. It presents a contemporary collection of queer and gay photography and features more than 40 queer and gay photographers from all over the world.

Art, more than anything, opens up the possibility of approaching one’s own sexuality beyond the limits imposed by taboos. Not only does it allow for a risk-free, playful exploration of gender and forbidden desires, but it is unique in capturing its contradictions.

In recent years, a young and active queer photography scene has emerged, helped in large part by social media. Indulging their desire for self-presentation, affirmation, and reflection, many photographers portray male homosexuality in particular as a private idyll. At the same time, they shine a critical light on their own and society’s approach to transsexuality and gender roles and expose the corrupting but also affirmative power of pornography.

Films, series, and mainstream cultural appropriation suggest that society has largely embraced queer lifestyles. However, a number of documentary photographers provide evidence that being gay or lesbian can still lead to marginalization, isolation, stigmatization, and violence in certain countries and communities. Their works also take the regime of sexuality itself into account and show that many bans on same-sex contact have colonial origins.

This carefully researched and richly designed book introduces around 40 contemporary photographic positions, including those of well-established photographers as well as plenty of unknown and less well-known talent.

Editor Benjamin Wolbergs about New Queer Photography

“Around three years ago, I was working on the layout of a book about physique photography with photos from the 1950s, whose aesthetics and visual worlds were clearly intended to appeal to a gay audience. In the course of this work, I asked myself: what would a book with contemporary gay and queer photography look like? What photographers, topics, and styles would be included in such a book today?

Around that time, I became aware of the works of Matt Lambert and Florian Hetz, and I started to look for other gay and queer photographers. As my research intensified, a universe of incredibly talented LGBTQ photographers emerged in front of me, characterized by a wide variety of different styles and visual worlds beyond clichés and preconceptions. This is how the idea of New Queer Photography was born.”

“As the subtitle of the book („focus the margins“) already suggests, with this publication I would like to focus on topics such as drag and gender, queerness and transsexuality, which are on the margins of social discourse. At the same time, I would like to create a high-profile and quality platform for these issues and for these extremely talented photographers to present their work.”