FEATURE

Embodiment

Several years in the making, Molly Landreth’s “Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America” suggests far more about queer family and community in different parts of the country than might seem possible in still photographs of individuals, couples, and small groups. There’s a startling tension here between fluidity and permanence. For Landreth’s 4 x 5" camera, subjects must hold their poses for as long as a minute. Many confront the camera or present themselves to it: Ducky and friends stretched out on the grass and on top of each other in Cedar Rapids (below); Cooper in Oakland, corseted, grinning hard, glitter-caked eyes squeezed shut; Elliot, a trans man in his dad’s basement in Old Worthingon, Ohio, with a vintage girlie calendar on the wall, barefoot and shirtless, scars visible from his top surgery only months before. Others seem to be reenacting a scene that we look in on and often recognize: Meg and Renee, one’s head on the other’s shoulder, parked at night in a lot by a lake, city lights gleaming across the water; Jeannine and Jessica together on the illuminated porch of a little white house—queer female reimaginings of mid-century Americana. Landreth’s images often play with familiar tropes of intimacy, revealing both their persistence and their flexibility, and rewriting some very public fantasies about private lives.

Molly Landreth, Ducky and Her Friends, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2008, ink-jet print, dimensions variable. From the series “Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America,” 2004–10