A biennial international survey of the queer photographic gaze
WHAT IS QUEER PHOTOGRAPHY?
Masculine, feminine, non-binary, gender-fluid – all perspectives tell our story.
ROUND HOLE SQUARE PEG 4 is a juried photography exhibition and competition conceived to discover a new LGBTQ visual culture for the 21st century. A special focus is on transgender awareness, people of color and underrepresented minorities in this biennial exhibition.
The exhibition is the only queer presentation at any of the major art fairs. Round Hole Square Peg first debuted at Photo LA in 2013. Curated by director Phil Tarley and associate curator Ruben Esparza, the exhibition is judged by a panel of five prominent jurors, and the director of Photo LA. As Stonewall 50 passes, LGBTQ persecution intensifies in Trump’s America. Art exhibitions enable LGBTQ photographers to voice their activism, proclaim their visibility and create a new wave of queer art and soul. Having a strong presence in front of a large audience helps the LGBTQ community defy and resist negative stereotypes.
This year, after debuting at Photo LA, 2020 January 30—February 2, 2020, through the support of the City of West Hollywood, the exhibition will move to the city’s gallery for a four-week run. Opening night in West Hollywood will feature a celebrity-driven, live art auction to benefit The Trevor Project: the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth and the ONE Archives Foundation: a vital resource for showcasing the trailblazing history and rich culture of LGBTQ communities through exhibitions that pull from the largest collection of LGBTQ archival materials in the world. The West Hollywood exhibition will run from February 8 – March 4, 2020.
Ruben Esparza, associate curator, said Phil Tarley organized the show in 2013, to dialog with the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’ exhibition of the erotic work of Bob Mizer and Tom of Finland. Round Hole Square Peg is meant to tackle the paradigm of 21st LGBT visibility—to contrast the white male-centric presentation of the Mizer-Tom of Finland show. RHPS’s exhibition manifesto tackles the demanded visibility of female, people of color, and transgender LGBT identifiers.
Participating artist Stuart Sandford feels that his work is innately queer. “The queerness of my work, other than simply being produced by a self-identifying gay man, comes from the intention to question the prevailing norm,” he says. “The taboo, the (gay) male gaze on the (gay) male body in an unbridled manner, something once lost and now reclaimed. But will this, or any art, help save us in 2020? No, of course not, the artist’s role is to ask questions and provoke debate.”
RHSP Competition Judge, Paul Bridgewater, shares “Queer identity is not simply a sexual one. Queer artists have a perspective and an experience to contribute to society that is wholly our own and it’s a rich and worldly one. Having been marginalized and alienated for so long has helped us develop a unique view of self-worth, self-image, spirituality, and companionship. We can look at the world and mirror it back to the human condition with insight, style, glamour, and fun.”
“The world is changing for LGBTQ people,” Tarley says “In 2019, dark Trumpian clouds are forming and threatening to roll back hard-won civil rights. The religious right is ramping up its homophobic and transphobic attacks. By showing positive, sincere images that reflect our true queer lives, we can stay visible in a world that wants us to disappear,” said Tarley, who is also a fellow of the American Film Institute, a member of the Photographic Arts Council, and writes a critical photography blog for Fabrik Magazine.
Check out some of the photography for the 2020 Exhibition, or photos from the Past Exhibitions. Visit the website to get entry details, read more about the exhibition and the history of LGBTQ photography.