For this year’s Pride Month, Los Angeles-based photographer Elizabeth Waterman is launching an online exhibition, "Gorgeous Drag," on June 30 at 11:30 a.m. Pacific showcasing images from New York City’s drag scene from 2014 to 2016.
Waterman often studies the “ongoing metamorphosis of artists and performers of many genres and subcultures” in her work, and explores female sexuality, sex work, porn actors, obsessions, and portraits of artists, according to a news release about the show.
She became interested in the drag scene following an invitation to a party in March 2014. “For four years, I’d been working as a portrait photographer in Brooklyn, focusing on the millennial art community, but when I walked in this party, I knew I’d found the edge of a blade. Who were these glittering performers, these late-night habitués? Would they let me into their world? I was intrigued, enamored. I had to know more,” Waterman said.
Waterman went on to spend two years photographing the drag scene and what she calls its “rollicking parade of gender ambiguity and fantasy.”
The exhibition is presented by London gallery Albumen.
“Almost a decade ago, Elizabeth undertook an extensive and ambitious reconnaissance of the New York City drag scene. The resulting ‘Gorgeous Drag’ series marks not just one but two departures. It was a dynamic time. An increasingly assertive drag scene came out of the shadow of its earlier underground existence — confident of its contribution towards an expanding conversation about gender and sex in the United States,” Albumen gallerist Stephan Schmid said in the release. “The Bushwick drag scene, once furtively played out in backroom venues, suddenly produced major stars, including Sasha Velour, Aquaria, and Scarlet Envy. It also marked a departure in Elizabeth’s career. Previously, her portrait work had taken place in the insulated environment of the studio. As a photographer, she felt increasingly restricted and held back by the roles and role-play that govern conventional portrait photography, further encumbered by unwieldy professional equipment.” Bushwick is a neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Waterman reflected on the period photographing the drag scene by saying, “I set out to explore New York's underground performance world, shadowy and slightly unhinged, where the players flutter like moths to the spotlight of spectacle — a mob of bit-part participants and high-profile personalities, people acting out and cutting loose. My equipage? A disposable point-and-shoot film camera.”
Waterman was born in Taos, N.M., and raised in Chicago. She holds a BA in fine art from the University of Southern California.
Those interested in the online event can register here.