Sm{art}: Embodiment, a queer multimedia project

Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America, began as a photography project by Molly Landreth to document queer life in America. When she teamed up with Amelia Tovey, they decided to go beyond two-dimensional portraiture and let their subjects tell their own stories through short films. Now nearing completion of the project, which included travelling all over the United States, Landreth and Tovey are working on launching a full-on multimedia website of the people they've met. When the project is launched, you can view a short video of folks they met along their trip weekly.

Here's the project straight from the directors and subjects of the film:

Partial transcript here

One of the reasons Amelia and Molly are posting their project as a multimedia website is to remove their work from the exclusive film festival and art gallery circuit, allowing anyone with Internet access a chance to see and experience their project. (and it means there's book and DVD possibilities!), to allow a broader audience to see these stories. In a January interview with Matchless Magazine, Landreth said the following about the project:

The whole point of this project is representation. Period. When people, especially people in underrepresented communities know that there is someone else out there that shares their story, passion, dreams it's super empowering. I want to do that with this website. I want it to be about visibility, access and empowerment. It's about taking it out of the gallery and into peoples' living rooms. The queer community is so huge and surprising and these stories deserve to be available 24/7 for free to whoever wants to watch them. There will be one page per "character" and that page will be a little cornucopia of goodies like video, photo, personal statements, maps, postcards - who knows! It will "embody" the individual. And the site will, to some extent, embody the American LGBTQ community.

Until the project is launched, you can visit their blog for video, photos, highlights from their travel, and information on upcoming appearances (make sure you don't miss their exhibit if they come to your town, like I just did!). Here's a preview clip of Katrina from Iowa:

KATRINA (Iowa) Preview from Embodiment_Private on Vimeo.

I went to a gay bar. I didn't even know drag existed, I didn't know what drag was...I didn't know guys did that. Like honestly, I probably thought I was the only person in the whole wide world that was different, and wants to be different. I went to a gay bar. Underage, fake ID, just like everyone else. I went in, and then I saw a drag show. I just thought, "Oh my God, that's amazing. That's amazing, I'm going to do this, there are people like this." So I went to their open mic night. And I did a Janet Jackson song, it was called "Together Again," it was my very first number ever. It wasn't what I thought it would be like, it's different from getting into the show choir at school and singing..It's different people. These are not your parents and your friends' parents, and teachers. These are people I didn't know, and didn't see. So I was very nervous when I did it. And you could not have told me I wasn't Janet Jackson. I thought I was her.

You can support Embodiment by visiting their Kickstarter page or visiting their Etsy shop where there are striking photographs from their project for sale. 

an androgynous figure stands in front of a red house. Adrien wears a sweater vest with a red tie with her hands in her pockets.
Adrien, Washburn WI 2009

Two male Orthodox Jews sit a kitchen table. One is staring straight at the camera. The other reaches out their hand to the other while gazing at them. There is a "no war" sticker on the window.  

Ronni and Jo, Seattle, WA, 2005

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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4 Comments Have Been Posted

Just missed it!

Damn! I just missed the Brooklyn ended on the 22nd.

Thank you for announcing this...I'm wicked interested in it.


I absolutely LOVE this project, I can't wait to see more! I love the preacher, he's my hero!

I am sooooo excited about

I am sooooo excited about this project! I can't wait until the website is up and running and they are done with all the short films. From what I have seen so far the photography is wonderful and the teasers are really fun. :)

LOVE it!

This is great! Thanks for posting and sharing--I adore that you can buy these photos on Etsy. They're so very Catherine Opie...

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