Editor Benjamin Wolbergs presents his photography book named New Queer Photography, focusing on contemporary queer photography featuring works of more than 50 photographers with incredible shots and stories. Having worked on it for the last four years, the book showcases the universe of incredibly talented LGBTQ photographers characterized by a wide variety of different styles and visual worlds beyond clichés and preconceptions.
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.
The project started around three years ago when Wolbergs was working on the layout of a book mainly focused on physique photography with photos from the 1950s, with aesthetics and visual worlds clearly intended to appeal to a gay audience. During the process of research and development of this initial idea, a second one popped up in his head. “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?” he thought.
Digging deeply into this second idea, he became aware of the amazing works of Matt Lambert and Florian Hetz, which led to him looking for other gay and queer photographers. As his research in this field intensified, he became aware of how many incredibly talented LGBTQ photographers were creating amazing art pieces that were both aesthetically perfect and that also shared very important messages about the community, beyond clichés and preconceptions. This is how the idea of New Queer Photography was born.
What made you want to create this book in the first place? Why did you feel the need to create this project instead of your first idea of physique photography with photos from the 1950s? The book about physique photography with photos from the 50s was published by Taschen. “Bob Mizer. AMG: 1000 Model Directory” was edited by Dian Hanson and I was the art director of this publication. However, the work on this bookmarked the starting point for my own publication “new queer photography”. The aesthetics and visual worlds of the photographs from the 50s were clearly intended to appeal to a gay audience so I began asking myself: what would a book with contemporary queer photography look like? What photographers, topics, and styles would be included in such a book today?
I know you discovered very talented LGBTQI+ photographers and artists when you were creating this book, but they are not as represented as others, which makes it even harder for them to get seen. How did you feel about this? How do you think this situation could be fixed? I think it is like for all marginalized communities in our society quite hard to get noticed and to get seen. Especially when it is outside the “victimhood” context. So I really hope that something like my publication can make a small contribution to creating visibility by presenting more than 50 brilliant LGBTQI+ photographers through an ambitious art book. But most of all it is the responsibility of the media whether it is online, print, or television to show and practice more diversity and support by engaging new talents from the LGBTQI+ photographer’s scene or other marginalized communities.
Among the unknown and less well-known talents, which one of them surprised you the most? Why? That is a tough one because I was blown away by so many photographers and stories from the book. I would say what inspired me the most was the fact that all of the stories and visual worlds in my book are told through the queer gaze without any preconceptions and without reproducing stereotypes of any clichés. I think this is what makes the book so authentic and relevant. And I am in love with all of the different perspectives on the beauty that is celebrated by many artists from the book!
If you were to create a second book, would you follow this book’s story or would you rather jump to other types of stories and genres? Why? I would love to follow up with creating books about queer photography but I think next time more in the direction of single monographs instead of anthologies with so many artists. But for now, I am enjoying the success of “new queer photography” after four years of working on it before I will jump to the next publication.
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.Benjamin Wolbergs
You can buy this incredible book on www.verlag-kettler.de