Panel Honoring Robert Giard

Variously Documenting: Methods of Portraiture was in conversation with the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art’s current exhibition, Uncanny Effects: Robert Giard’s Currents of Connection. It brought together three contemporary photographers–Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., Naima Green, and Ian Lewandowski—who are documenting queer communities. As Ariel Goldberg (co-curator of UNCANNY EFFECTS: Robert Giard’s Currents of Connection) points out in their introduction to the panel, queer photo history tends to be marked by its most sensationalist narratives and figures.

Until his sudden death in 2002, Giard steadily built and sustained LGBTQ culture in a singularly precarious moment, making photographs of queer writers, their friends and lovers, and their wider communities. Inspired by the loss of life in a pandemic, his project was made possible by a slow and considered process of analog networking.

In the radically different context of image-making today, three artists—Lewandowski, Brown, and Green, share aspects of their photographic practices with Giard’s legacy, touching on themes of slowness, refusal, banality, intimacy, and the haptic and handheld. As we collectively mourn our shared queer spaces, defend our communities, and negotiate both illness and our intimate relationships, these artists’ work achieves a singular resonance right now.