The young photographer, John Edmunds, explores the emotive and visual signifiers of Black masculinities, sexuality and intimacy within particular US contexts. This is evident in his do-rag series he produced earlier this year. Tracing the style of men tying these nylon cloths around their heads to the history of American slavery were women wore cloths around their heads to protect them from the heat, to the use of headwraps as a way to preserve hairstyles. Edmunds photographs possess a softness that is in conversation with this history. His compositional choices present the do-rags as having a royal quality to them, with the flow of the fabric mimicking the train of an evening dress. This is echoed by some of the titles for his images, including The Prince.
Edmunds graduated from Yale with his MFA Photography degree last year. Style has played an important role in how he has conceptualized his photographic projects. Branching out from this premise, he focuses on symbols of Black American culture and his own identity as a Queer, Black man. The 2014 series Edmunds produced for ADULT magazine reflects on this last theme directly.
This series looks at attraction, intimacy, race, and sexuality, as well as provides a critical eye on the need to peel open the complexities of masculinities. By tapping into the emotional depth that can be achieved through photography and addressing the politics of the gaze, Edmunds presents portraits of friends and strangers, with most individuals photographed alone, but never appearing lonely. With these individuals being photographed in domestic spaces, Edmunds heightens a feeling of affection between those photographed and the camera. These images force viewers to come face-to-face with their own ideologies that govern the filters through which they interpret beauty, intimacy, and strength.
Check out Edmunds’ website to follow his work.