Austin Young stages an outdoor photography studio on the park’s overhead walkway. The celebrated photographer invites attendees to pose for the camera and to exhibit varying embodiments of masculinity. The intention is to gift the resulting photographs to each person after the event. The walkway fills up with people, who perform masculinity in radically different ways. Young’s project demonstrates how self-representation can be a space to challenge normative conceptions of gender and selfhood. The project also models the ways in which a photographic practice can be relational and expansive in its engagement with, even construction, of a public. Throughout the evening, the studio serves as a social space: people stand in line and meet each other. When it’s their turn they pose for the camera, and then many linger in conversation with Austin and the studio team. This scene serves as the backdrop of the evening—people gather and, in this togetherness, create a space for gender variance and performative play.
Austin Young is an image-maker celebrated for his work in portrait photography. His numerous projects reveal the sublime qualities that make celebrated people unique. Based on a pop-culture iconography, through his trademark style and techniques, he has captured a broad range of musicians and artists including Debbie Harry, Leigh Bowery, Margaret Cho, and many others. In multiple bodies of his internationally renowned work, Austin confuses personality and identity issues in confrontational and unapologetic image making about people who often split gender roles, stereotypical constraints and socially-constructed identities.