Marquis looks back through history to reflect on contemporary representations of queerness
In her first major essay, Notes on Camp (1964), the late American writer Susan Sontag (1933-2004) traces queer aesthetics back to the early Enlightenment period, writing, “still the soundest starting point seems to be the late-17th and early-18th century, because of that period’s extraordinary feeling for artifice, for surface, for symmetry; its taste for the picturesque and the thrilling, its elegant conventions for representing instant feeling and the total presence of character.” Although writers and thinkers have critiqued the essay’s arguments, contemporary queer aesthetics undoubtedly borrow from this era.
For photographer Tara Laure Claire, late-17th and early-18th century portrayals of masculinity inspired her latest series, Marquis, along with 1960s Bollywood aesthetics as a reference to her Indian heritage. In Marquis, Claire reimagines these inspirations in a surreal style, reviving their aesthetics to meditate on contemporary manifestations of gender, identity, and sexuality. “The coloured tights historically worn by men were my primary inspiration,” Claire explains.“[And the question of how the] philosophy and the wardrobe [of that period] would manifest today.”
Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.