Over the past eighteen years, photographer JJ Levine has created studio portraits across three major series: Queer Portraits, Alone Time, and Switch. Across all three projects, JJ Levine hopes to provoke thought, while maintaining a commitment to formal photographic techniques. The underlying goal of his work is to celebrate the resistance and resilience in the queer community through the confrontational gaze of his subjects and a collective cultural aesthetic.
In 2006, JJ Levine began photographing his friends – individuals, couples and children – for a series entitled Queer Portraits. He creates a studio within each home environment, usually the models’ residence, and intentionally places every element that appears within the frame, such as decor, props, clothing and pose. These settings are intended to raise questions regarding private space as a realm for the development of community and the expression of genders and sexualities that are often marginalised within the public sphere. The artist considers this ongoing series a lifelong project.
Alone Time employs elements of drag and gender transformation. This series is intended to confuse and amuse the viewer and urge the audience to problematize preconceived notions of binary gender and heteronormativity. Alone Time is a series of portraits that depict couples sharing intimate moments. Yet upon closer examination, the “couples” prove to be composed of a single model appearing as both the male and female characters. To construct these portraits, the artist layers several different negatives together, creating a final composite image. This ongoing project began in 2007.