Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

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Rare Birds and Wild Creatures

Last Monday evening, Dec 9, 2013, friends old and new gathered at The Bureau of General Services Queer Division (BGSQD) for The Queen of Hearts, an exhibition of photographs by Quito Ziegler. Everybody knew each other, so it didn’t feel like a gallery but someone’s living room. Another transient space for this sort of merry flock. The evening’s highlight was a slideshow that Ziegler presented, edited from three years’ worth of material. Ziegler showed this new edit along with stories—interpretations kept alive by the gleeful additions of some in attendance. In some inherent ode to their inter-connectedness, most individuals were not so easily identifiable—figures of light sauntered and swished on the sidewalks of night. Moonlight, streetlight, lit cigarettes and sparklers.

It is too easy to dismiss blurry photographs as the domain of the unskilled, a compromise of the unwilling, a poor substitution for “adequate” representation. As the digital age accelerates depersonalization in the guise of connectivity and efficiency, a longing for the tactile and the imprecise has been visibly emerging in photography, prominently in the past decade. What off-focus pictures easily convey is the unrepeatable formation of immediacy. If sharpness shows the crisp dead wings of a moment’s flight, the blur accentuates the trail alive. It’s also about honesty: most lighting conditions we experience (unless we live in a climate of perpetual F16 sunshine) do not lend themselves to natural sharpness by a camera. And so, an image is physically fixed in its evolution toward meaning, but remains visually unhinged. 

In pairing a slideshow with spoken story, Ziegler expressed how this style of working regenerated a connection to photography, and to those in Ziegler’s social millieu. Verbal language was as fluid as the photographs, each leading us through the tales of how a Transfemininst navigates the world of wonder while healing old wounds. The images might have been fixed (on the wall, or chemically) but not the stories. The stories seemed to belong to all who were there: in or out of the pictures. And then Ziegler went downstairs to smoke a cigarette. 

What follows are excerpts from an interview with Quito Ziegler completed in Dec. 2013.

Patricia: You've spent the last three years making pictures at night, of and with a spontaneity that belongs to the independent: those not moored by traditional employment. What was it like on the side of night? 

Quito: The year that I was