Blake Little: FLUID   

OCT 2 - DEC 19


FLUID is a photographic portrait series by Los Angeles-based Blake Little that began in 2017 with a simple casting call. The response was overwhelming and led to portrait sessions in various locations including university studios in Victoria, Regina and Saskatoon. What Little has come to recognize is the pivotal and seismic shift in the history of the human identity spectrum with transgender, non-binary, gender fluid, Two Spirit and + people at the forefront. As an artist Blake felt compelled to begin recording regular, activist and celebrity models who are on the vanguard, while paying particular attention to the diversity of class, race, age groups and geographic locations of his models. 

A touring exhibition of 31 colour portraits has evolved in close consultation with Dr. Aaron Devor, Founder and Academic Director of the world’s largest Transgender Archives, and Founder and host of the international, interdisciplinary Moving Trans History Forward conferences and Professor of Sociology, University of Victoria. The first iteration of the exhibition was presented in January, 2020, at the University of Victoria Legacy Art Galleries. FLUID begins to address pertinent issues and concerns to a range of public interest groups, including questions such as: Is gender over? What are the new semiotics of gender representation? Is post-gender the new international civil rights movement? What are the protocols and issues to be addressed in the making of photographic representation of trans, gender fluid, non-binary and Two Spirit + models? Answers to these and other questions will undoubtedly challenge expectations.

Artist Statement / Blake Little
"It seems to me we’re in a post-Pride era of diversity and gender neutral inclusion in public and private life, with related issues being discussed in university forums as well as public school classrooms and corporate board rooms. As a photographer and an avid viewer there is a conscious aim to have my own understanding of gender representation (initially informed by the culture wars of the 1980s) refreshed and perhaps corrected. I am so thankful to my models that came to the University of Regina, University of Saskatchewan and University of Victoria to be photographed, and simply for allowing me to work with them. In many ways I, like others, are being encouraged to listen in and learn about gender diversity through photographs and moving images. My procedure then is, first and foremost, to observe and interpret with sensitivity and to accept any mistakes in the process. The portraits and the social process behind their production will continue to generate public discussion around why we find these images so powerful, alluring and, on occasion, so difficult to process. Each portrait subject invites new forms of characterization by us as observant interpreters."

IMAGE ABOVE: Blake Little, Mo (image cropped detail), 2019, Photograph. Courtesy the artist. 

Curated by Wayne Baerwaldt


Biography of the Artist  – Blake Little

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Blake Little moved to Los Angeles in 1982 after graduating with a photography degree from Seattle’s Central College. Over the last thirty-five years Little has become an award winning LA-based photographer best known for his ability to capture, with an honest intimacy, the energy and personality of his subjects. His portraits subjects have been diverse, from luminaries such as Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Samuel Jackson, kd Lang, and John Baldesarri to rural Canadians for the series New West. Little’s work has been exhibited in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Calgary, Kansas City, St. Louis, San Diego, Lethbridge and Japan. His work has been appeared in the London Times, New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ and other media outlets. Four monographs on his work have been produced:  Dichotomy in 1997, The Company of Men, 2010, Manifest, 2012 and Preservation, 2014. 

Biography of the Curator – Wayne Baerwaldt

Wayne Baerwaldt is an art, photography and architecture curator based in Canada. Since 1986 he has co-produced exhibitions, events, symposia and publications that trace performative elements, with an emphasis on cross-disciplinary investigations of unstable forms and disputed identities.  Baerwaldt has produced projects with a wide range of creatives including Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller (Venice Biennale 2001), Pierre Molinier, Elaine Stocki, Marcel Dzama, Tim Gardner, Gabriela Garcia-Luna, Joep van Lieshout, Beck & Al Hansen, Sheila Spence, John Kormeling, Glenn Ligon, Adam Pendleton, Iran Do Espirito Santo, Zachari Logan, Jeffrey Gibson, Eleanor Bond, and others.  He has contributed to POV, City Magazine, Art&Text, Border Crossings, Parkett, Art on Paper, TIME magazine, Poliester, Art Paper, C Magazine, BlackFlash, Inuit Art Quarterly, and numerous catalogues.  He is currently working on projects with Cadillac Fairview Corp., Toronto, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (Wayne Ngan), and the University of Regina (a memorial to the 1876 trek of Chief Sitting Bull and 5,000 followers from Little Bighorn, MT to Wood Mountain, SK).