Inserting himself into existing family photos, the artist questions and queers how we represent gender identity through the photo album.
Family photos are often our first experience of photography. The images collected in analog albums or on computers and phones capture everything from the momentous to the mundane. Usually organized according to time’s linear progression, these snaps offer proof of the beauty, awkwardness, and hard-fought grace that settles over us as we age.
Those same photos also reveal who or what is missing, if we look long enough.
Vaughan Larsen’s series Rites examines and destabilizes the gendered rituals that family photographs capture. In re-staging both important and trivial events, Larsen inserts himself - and countless others - into familial rituals and rites of passage that are too often off limits to queer-identifying people.
I met Larsen during a brief portfolio review at the SPE National conference in March. In advance of his exhibition, on view at New Orleans’ Myth Gallery through June 8, we spoke again about Rites, the role of humor and performance in the series, and the importance of representation and what viewers take for granted in vernacular photography.
Roula Seikaly in conversation with Vaughan Larsen