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The Passionate Camera: Photography and Bodies of Desire [Paperback]

Deborah Bright


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Book Description

8 Oct 1998 0415145821 978-0415145824
The Passionate Camera brings together over fifty artists, scholars and critics to address a broad range of issues in photography and sexuality. The authors address the importance of reinterpreting historical works by known homosexual photographers, issues in contemporary photography and sexual diversity, and the use and abuse of photographs of sexual subjects in current political campaigns and direct activism. The Passionate Camera features color and black and white illustrations of works by artists such as Ajamu, Catherine Opie, Lyle Ashton, Yasumasa Morimura, John O'Reilly and Sunil Gupta. For the first time, these works have been gathered together in a lucid and accessible critical context, making The Passionate Camera the pre-eminent source on queer and sex-radical photography at the end of the twentieth century.


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"The Passionate Camera is fairly equally oriented toward queer male and female imagery."-Feminist Bookstore News, Januanry/February 1999 "The "Passionate Camera provides vibrant, rigorous and pleasurable readings of sex work in the practice of photography and the filed of photographic criticism of recent years..It is Bright's role as creative and shrewd editor that makes "The Passionate Camera such an exceptional volume. The book has an inner consistency that is uncommon in anthologies; the different essays flow into one another in a productive and lyrical manner. The three sections are metered by provocative photo essays and end with pointed short stories by artist and writer Catherine Lord."-"afterimage, March/April 1999 ""The Passionate Camera . . . departs from the stale formula of academic publishing and provides vibrant, rigorous and pleasurable readings of sex work in the practice of photography and the field of photographic criticism of recent years . . . [Bright's] extraordinary introduction to the volume succeeds in its formidable task of making sense of the past 15 years of photography and queer cultural politics. . . . and through this furthers the emergence of queer studies in academia . . . . "The Passionate Camera will surely be widely used as an indespensible theoretical and historical document on queer visual culture at the end of the millennium. It has endless potential as a course textbook and library resource. The contributors' confident and committed collective gaze rests on a troubled past and on an unsettling present, but they all reassert the besieged queer body of desire into the future."-Afterimage, March 1999 "The success of this newanthology of images and texts derives from the fact that Deborah Bright is equally gifted as an artist, a teacher, and critical theorist. The cumulative insights of "The Passionate Camera are both vibrantly comprehensive and intensely personal; these multi-disciplinary studies map radical approaches to the pungent complexities of photographs that are sexually charged."-Trevor Fairbrother, Deputy Director of Art, Seattle Art Museum "While engaging the challenge queer politics presents to the status quo, the contributions to "The Passionate Camera illuminate the central position that supposed minorities of all kinds hold in contemporary culture. An amazing collection of essays and photographs, the book is a multifaceted exploration of the body, sexuality, and consensus culture that is theoretically smart, beautifully written, and a pleasure to peruse."-Carol Squires, Senior Editor, American Photo magazine

From the Publisher

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-- New Book Examines the Power of Gay and Lesbian Photography at the End of the 20th Century --

THE PASSIONATE CAMERA Photography and the Bodies of Desire

Edited by Deborah Bright

"An amazing collection of essays and photographs, the book is a multifaceted exploration of the body, sexuality, and consensus culture that is theoretically smart, beautifully written, and a pleasure to peruse."

-- Carol Squires, American Photo magazine

"The success of this new anthology of images and texts derives from the fact that Deborah Bright is equally gifted as an artist, a teacher, and critical theorist. The cumulative insights of THE PASSIONATE CAMERA are both vibrantly comprehensive and intensely personal."

-- Trevor Fairbrother, Seattle Art Museum

More than any other imaging medium, photographs create and reinforce our public ideals of gender and sexuality. Advertising, journalism, and fashion photographs show us how "good bodies" and "bad bodies" look and behave, while art photographs in galleries, museums, and books teach us culturally permissable modes of looking at and discussing bodies and what they represent. Whether produced directly on film or by computer, photographs are the key agents in the "commodification" of bodies and desire -- an operation necessary to sustaining a consumption-driven economy. But photography holds an even more important role in our society -- it serves as concrete evidence of "reality."

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of new ideas and practices which challenge assumptions about gender and desire. Since the mid-1980s, gay, lesbian, and other "sex-radical" artists have been making there presence felt in non-profit galleries, film festivals, and other alternative image markets, goaded by militancy and mourning in the wake of AIDS and bolstered by the vigorous new growth in the gay and lesbian rights movements. However, the scope of work by lesbian and gay visual artists has been sporadically documented and quite often censored.

THE PASSIONATE CAMERA: Photography and Bodies of Desire (Routledge; November 12, 1998; Trade Paperback Original), edited by art historian and writer Deborah Bright, puts the spotlight on the long-ignored subject. In this intelligent and important work, Bright brings together 50 artists, scholars, and writers to address the broad range of issues in photography and sexuality. Writings by 21 authors, including Thomas Waugh, Richard Meyer, Catherine Lord, Liz Kotz, and Glen Ligon, address the importance of reinterpreting historical works by known homosexual photographers, issues in contemporary photography and sexual diversity, and the use and abuse of sexual subjects in current political campaigns and direct activism. Interwoven around these powerful, original pieces are the works of art themselves -- 49 color and 169 black and white photographs by such artists as Ajumu, Catherine Opie, Lyle Ashton Harris, Yasumasa Morimura, John O'Reilly, Sunil Gupta, and others.

For the first time, these works will be gathered together in a lucid, powerfully written testament to the power of gay and lesbian photography at the end of the 20th Century. THE PASSIONATE CAMERA is not only a major contribution to contemporary art, but also an important work about a diverse artistic movement that has been overlooked for far too long.

About the Editor: Deborah Bright is an Associate Professor of Photography and Art History at the Rhode Island School of Design. A practicing artist, she has written widely on photography and cultural issues for a number of publications, including Afterimage, Art Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, exposure, and Views. She lives in Boston.


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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a wierd mix 26 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There's some great stuff in this book, especially writing, so it's a pity that so much of the art is so studenty, weak, embarrassing. Self-indulgent to the max. There's a wierd conflict between a more academic, didactic photo/text program, and a more arty thing that leaks out the edges.
Good reads include R Meyer on Mapplethorpe, L Kotz on Nan Goldin, D Joselit on Mark Morrisroe, Thomas Waugh on physique photo, K Brooke on Berenice Abbott, and more. I wish there was more historical work: Florence Henri anyone?? And I wish the guys didn't get so into the sensational "d&a" stuff -- it's embarrassing, especially when the art is so clunky, clunky, clunky.
A wierd thought: many of the guys are academically-trained art historians, and almost none (?) of the women are. What does that say?
A lot of fat could have been trimmed, leaving a leaner, tighter, and cheaper book. Nonetheless, it's about the onlything out there, and I'm glad to see that Routledge is still alive and kicking.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! 11 Oct 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the perfect introduction to recent 'queer' photography - great essays, images, and more. So much I'd been looking for, all in one place. Smart, up-to-the moment, and diverse. So many great artists, some well-known and some not.
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