Elle Pérez Works Between the Frame | Art21 "New York Close Up"

Elle Pérez Works Between the Frame | Art21 "New York Close Up"

From their Brooklyn studio, photographer Elle Pérez ruminates on power of the photograph to capture the moments that words can't describe. Shown highlighting excerpts from inspiring texts, reviewing prints, and creating large-scale wall collages of words and images, Pérez explains how they began photographing aspiring entertainment wrestlers in their native Bronx neighborhood. Pérez relates the scripted and choreographed nature of these wrestlers to their own process of creating portrait photography; "I don't think there's a way to involve a camera without immediately involving a kind of fiction," explains Pérez.

Shooting in a nearby Bushwick park, Pérez works collaboratively with a subject to create a photograph. The artist candidly explains that the raw, visceral, and emotionally authentic quality of their photographs is often mistaken for documentary; however, the photographs are carefully staged, despite their effortless quality. Born of this close relationship with each subject, Pérez describes their photographs as depicting the traces of queer experiences without showing the spectacle of those experiences—evidenced in a close up of a bloodied hand resting between two thighs, or a man wrapped in a towel showing the u-shaped scars across his chest. Pérez relates the undefinable quality of queerness to photography, calling the photograph "a perfect container because it is not actually, ever, definitive."

Elle Pérez lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about the artist at:

CREDITS | "New York Close Up" Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director: Lorena Alvarado & Adam Golfer. Editor: Lorena Alvarado. Cinematography: Adam Golfer. Location Sound: Lorena Alvarado. Additional Camera: John Marton. Music: Beach Moon/Peach Moon. Color Correction: Jonah Greenstein. Sound Mix: Adam Boese. Design & Graphics: Chips. Artwork Courtesy: Elle Pérez. Thanks: 47 Canal, Ian Forster, Gleason Gym, Jamie Kenyon, Nicole Myles, & Xochitl Perez. © Art21, Inc. 2019. All Rights Reserved.

"New York Close Up" is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by individual contributors.

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Video Language:
"New York Close Up" series
Format: Youtube Primary Original Synced