This photographic study is broadly about homophobia, and more specifically about male touch isolation in American society. It is my observation that our society suffers from an unconscious bias against displays of platonic male affection and the result is a pattern of ‘touch isolation’. It is rare that we see imagery of men engaged in nurturing physical contact with each other. Is this because masculine touch is so often interpreted as inherently sexual? Wether this paradigm is the cause of rampant homophobia or vice versa is unanswerable. My intention with this project is to shine a light on the archetype; to raise the question rather than attempt to answer it.
The body of work consists of three categories, each illustrating touch isolation in different ways and with varying levels of intimacy. The section I have submitted here is called simply, ‘Holding Hands.’ This group of images illustrates the discomfiture brought on by the seemingly innocuous act of joining hands. The awkwardness brought on by the intimacy of the contact is palpable. It is not my desire that these portraits describe a fantasy of a society where men feel comfortable holding hands so much as to illustrate the reality of a society in which they do not.
The portraits were all shot on film with a large format view camera. The formality of the method of capture adding to the discomfort of the subjects. Presently this body of work consists of around forty images which have been exhibited and are contained in a catalogue which accompanies the show but the project is not finished and it is my intention to expand on the hand holding section.
Photographer Zoë Zimmerman grew up in the creatively fertile environs of Taos, New Mexico where she began photographing at an early age. Graduating from high school early, she landed a job at The Amon Carter Museum of Art printing the negatives of the late Laura Gilpin under the tutelage of curator and author Martha Sandweiss.
After the job was complete, she attended the Rhode Island School of Design graduating with a BFA in photography in 1986.
While in college Zoë turned her talents to a specialization in antique and alternative process printing and began creating prints for other artists including a series of platinum prints for Aaron Siskind. While working on the albumen prints for Warren Neidich’s book “American History Reinvented,” she discovered that the process suited her both procedurally and aesthetically and began to print her own work utilizing the antediluvian method. She eventually came up with her own version of the albumen process which is published as ‘ The Zimmerman Method’ in Christopher James’ book “Alternative Photographic Processes.”
Zoë has shown her work in numerous galleries and museums since the late 1980’s and is included in many private and public collections including MOMA,The New Mexico Museum of Art, The Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities and The Harwood Museum of the University of New Mexico.
Zoë continues to live and work in Taos, New Mexico, dividing her time between her passion for photography and her family and community.