Elle Pérez Works Between the Frame | Art21 “New York Close Up”

Elle Pérez Works Between the Frame | Art21 “New York Close Up”


[CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS] [Elle Pérez, Artist] I love that space where
something is a photograph and not necessarily a word. Or, you haven’t put the words
together for what you’re looking at yet. Something can live there in photography
and not have to be definitive. [Elle Pérez Works Between the Frame] My cousin Alex is an
entertainment wrestler in the Bronx. I sent him a message,
“Can I come and photograph your show?” And he was like,
“Yeah, just don’t tell our family.” When I was photographing the wrestlers, what I was interested in was
the choreography of the wrestling match, because the thing about entertainment wrestling
is that everything is scripted and everything is choreographed. And there are ways that you
would move your body to look more authentically
like you were in pain. If you were hanging like
Joe is hanging on the ropes, this extended moment
becomes more sculptural. [LAUGHS] I don’t think there’s a way to involve a camera without
immediately involving a kind of fiction. All of this is about an aspiration
toward acting. [SUBWAY NOISES] In a way, my work has always
been made collaboratively. Because of that, that’s why
I don’t think of it as documentary. Because my work had such a raw,
visceral relationship to emotional authenticity, people often would recommend
that I would go into documentary. But I could never figure out
the ethics of it. I was yelled at by the editor of
National Geographic for my photos looking misleading, because they looked like
documentary images, but they actually were made
by staging them. It looks effortless. They’re still pretty set up. [CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS] Definitely the geography of
where a lot of the pictures are made– whether it’s in the Bronx or Puerto Rico– it’s really important, and
I don’t think about it too much at all. I think about them as being
more related to people. They’re all made from really strong relationships. But how do you show something
that relates to a particular experience without showing the spectacle of it? The photograph of the hand, it has such a visceral, physical feeling of what two bodies could be capable of. You can use photography to depict
things that you actually cannot picture. It has so much to do with identity,
and it has so much to do with how surfaces have the ability
to contain the traces of an experience. A binder is a chest compression garment that, initially, it was designed for men who
had excess breast tissue. Then it got co-opted by
the transmasculine community. The photograph that I made of my binder was only possible after that object
had been worn for, like, five years. It had become frayed. The sweat and pain of that garment, all of it is visible in the fabric itself– and then in how it’s photographed with
an extreme focus on precise details. The pictures focus on something like a seam, or on someone’s tattoos, or on someone’s face. Then when you see it at a scale, you’re able to have a certain
proximity to detail that you can’t have in just
your day-to-day relationship. These giant wall collages that
I would use to draw from– whether it was drawing for writing, or drawing from text,
or text fragments– just looking at things and having
them be reflected back at me so that I can think about them. Then things slowly make
their way into the work. Form being related to queerness
because it’s undefinable and unboundaried, it has to have such a space of possibility
within it to even be possible at all. Something like a photograph is then
like a perfect container, because it is not
actually ever definitive.

5 thoughts on “Elle Pérez Works Between the Frame | Art21 “New York Close Up”

  • March 20, 2019 at 7:43 pm
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    D'accord. D'accord.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2019 at 8:56 pm
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    BEST BEST BEST
    <3

    Reply
  • March 27, 2019 at 6:36 pm
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    Beautiful work!

    Reply
  • April 3, 2019 at 7:38 am
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    What is the song ate the begining of the video?

    Reply
  • October 25, 2019 at 4:16 pm
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    L O V E

    Reply

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