Johanna Breiding

I work with photography and video to explore the construction of gender and cultural identity, questioning heteronormative ideologies within the social. Often collaborative, my practice archives underrepresented narratives to depict queer collectivities where love and loss exceed singularity. In Epitaph for Family, which opened two days after the U.S. legalization of same-sex marriage, I documented queer-identified perspectives on notions of family and marriage. A key stake was to disclose how heteronormative family structures, and its confines, define the individual and community.

As a queer identified artist, collectivity and cross-generational exchange are integral to my work. In Swarm I and Swarm II, I collaborated with students to document a collective action in Death Valley and to enact an alternative to the solipsism of Landscape Photography through sound and durational movement. Similarly in Death Valley Series: Ejaculation, I employed performance to complicate the “Individual-Author” of Western masculinist Land Art and demonstrate the futility of claiming territory as one’s own.

My work explores behaviors that are marked “deviant” or rendered illegible. Within this framework, I am interested how kinship is tied to practices to legitimation through state rights, gendered hierarchies, and bloodline. For instance, Ursula performs a remembered narrative of childhood sexual discovery (instigated through a childish prank with a phonesex worker), while O Series collects self-photographs of individuals during orgasm, empowering subjects to take control of the camera and archive nuanced images of desire that exceed categorization. Radical intimacy and cross-generational kinship offers breathing room outside prescribed forms of legitimacy and visibility.