Queer identity and mid-century American culture – Kevin Bennett Moore’s two topics of choice have nothing in common. Yet the 1996-born photographer uses his vivid imagination to merge these two opposing worlds. “Historically, there is a lot of clashes between my two major influences. On the flip side, this allows me to really play with my own experience that I insert into the language of mid-century American culture as almost a critique of our past”, he tells us.
The artist was introduced to the photographic medium at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Fascinated by societal issues, he started imagining performances and stagings linked to gender, using humour to encourage the viewer’s reflection. “My photographic approach is to build images rather than stumble upon them. Taking inspiration from my own experience and the world around me, I typically put together a sketch of what I want the image to look like and go from there”, he explains. Imagined as little scenes, his images flirt with immersion and sow doubt in our minds: what are we looking at? An autobiographical snapshot? Or a scripted moment?
Captured from all angles
Retro TV sets, checked jumpers, vintage glasses and kitschy carpets fill Kevin Moore’s universe – all elements that crush tangibility to propose an escape into the past. Influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s films and the classic television series The Twilight Zone, the photographer distils a certain strangeness into his images. Taken with a flash, his compositions seem to float between two parallel worlds, two eras, two realities. And, in this strange setting, a queer and liberated protagonist evolves, captured from all angles.
For voyeurism is at the heart of the photographer’s creations. Pairs of binoculars intersect with tight framing and shots taken on the fly – like a paparazzi wanting to capture an exciting scene. In his pictures, Kevin Moore is both the observer and the observed. He follows his own actions and reveals the absurd, the laughable, the ordinary, like a stalker obsessed with a stranger would. “More recently I have been playing with voyeurism quite obviously. In my older work, it can be interpreted as literally as watching this person get their head smashed into a cake, or on the other hand, discuss the way that society kind of likes to watch queerness from a distance”, the photographer explains. Between past and future, humour and commitment, Kevin Moore reimagines a hybrid America, anchored in the 1950s. A world as chic as it is old-fashioned, home to proud figures living their queerness in the open.
© Kevin Moore