Filter Photo is pleased to present V, a solo exhibition of work by Chicago-based photographer Shawn Rowe.
V is a body of work by Shawn Rowe that explores the tension between the queer male body and various forces both natural and societal. The title V describes the ambiguity of the project itself. In ancient times, V was used interchangeably with the letter U. V is the Roman Numeral for five and embodies a downward pointing arrow. For this work, the two lines that create the letter V intersect where the body and the environment exchange forces. These images represent a visualization of this conversation. The installation is emblematic of the work in that the scale, distance, and dimensions are variable. Like the letter V, the artist is asking the viewer to bring their own associations and meanings to the images and the body of work as a whole.
In this work, a quiet repose emerges, where moments of introspection grow long, while light and atmosphere become tactile. Landscape imagery punctuates this self-portrait, serving as a metaphor to discuss the symbiosis between nature and the body. V characterizes this relationship as both internal and external, with each body leaving marks upon the other. The power structures that support this dialogue manifest as visual interruptions in the intervening space between reflection and perception. In this work, Rowe creates space to discuss a range of definitions of masculinity, sexuality and gender in order to articulate acceptance and resolve.
The use of scale, sequence, and associations among images creates a sort of visual poetics. The mostly muted color palette is punctuated by bright pinks and reds to talk about desire and queerness. This body of work is a combination of self-portraiture through the use of a surrogate and completely fictional narrative. The identity of the model is mostly obscured throughout the series with only a few images included where he is meeting your gaze. He is a stand-in for the artist but is also a stand-in for the body as a vessel. The installation is set up to have the same visual language of the work, creating movement and moments of intimacy and distance.
Shawn Rowe (b. 1985) is a Chicago based artist and educator exploring the complexities of gender and social constructs through portraiture. His long-form approach allows him to embed with his subjects for months or years in order to understand them as complex beings. Shawn’s work has been exhibited and featured throughout the United States and internationally including the Photographic Center Northwest, Aint-Bad and Der Greif. Shawn is also the Assistant Editor of SKYLARK EDITIONS, a non-profit book publisher in Chicago, IL. Shawn received an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago and holds a BA in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University.
Image: Shawn Rowe