“Often when you deal with things that are about marginalized groups, they can be very insular and . . . masturbatory,” says visual artist and curator James Fowler. “Sort of like, We’re here, we’re queer and we’re taking some pictures of ourselves.”
The 10X10 Photography Project
was conceived in 2011 by Fowler, who acknowledges the importance of partying but felt a lack of representation of queer arts in Pride programming. His idea grew into a series of portraits: 10 photographers of 10 artists, all queer or trans identified, and the first installation was a hit. “I didn’t know if this was going to fly, and when it did, I got really excited. People were cheering it on, and you know you’re doing something right when commun
ities come behind you and say, ‘Good job.’”
The project has grown quickly, and there’s an ambitious plan for the future. “It went from a one-year project to ‘Let’s try it again’ to a 10-year project,” Fowler says. “I’m in for the long haul! 10X10
is a business now — it’s legit.” A number of significant changes will take place as 10X10
forges ahead. A major development is its move from The White House Studio Project in Kensington Market to a gallery space in the Gladstone, thanks to the help of Kaleb Robertson. Fowler has had an outpouring of local business support: from Akimbo, which provides promotional support; the Circuit Gallery, which is helping with printing the photos for the exhibit; Akasha Art Projects, which is doing the framing; Joey Bruni, who designed the book; and Peel Graphics, which will print the book, transforming last year’s 7x7 format into a very appropriate 10x10.
Last year’s photographers formed the 2012 jury, sifting through submissions to choose a lineup of 10 new photographers, including R Kelly Clipperton, JJ Levine and John Monteith. In turn, they were asked to submit a list of potential subjects: anything from “dream” candidates to up-and-comers to established arts heroes. “I never wanted the project to be, ‘Look at all of these people who are well established in their careers and look at all the contributions they’ve made,’” Fowler says. “Let’s look at who are the rising stars.”
Fowler is excited about the future and the idea that by the 10th year of 10X10
he will have worked with 100 photographers and 1,000 artists.
“Last year I turned 40, which was a really significant year for me,” he explains. “I’ve always heard from my friends, ‘When you turn 40 you have the face you deserve.’ I thought, Wow, this is a really nice thing. It gave me a lot of purpose.” Not to mention a really great face.
Michael Lyons enjoys just about everything in measurements of 10x10.
10x10 Photography Project runs till Sun, July 15 at the Gladstone, 1214 Queen St W.