Eric Robinson

Leather Men
Leather Men (close up)

Works in Exhibition:

Title: Leather Men
Dimensions: All plates 4 x 5” / Frames 8.5 x 9.5”
Medium: Ambrotypes

Artist’s Description:

What I seek with my camera is difference; that visible difference, which allows us as humans to identify or disassociate from the various groups, cultures, or communities, found within the United States. My interest stems from trying to understand how stigma has lead to these cultural divides and how these visible differences guide us to feel a sense of identification of self with a group or cultural context. I attempt to utilize a factual style of photography to reinforce the notion of otherness in an attempt to raise questions such as: what creates the divide between the viewer and the subject? Is this divide or difference something created from a point in history, which concerns ideas of superiority? Is this stigma worn by the other something that will disallow any form of true connection between “us” and “them?” Why are these differences a source of shame and not a source of power/pride?

The most current section of this project focuses on “Leather Men.” I was given the privilege to enter the world of “The 15,” a community of gay men bound together not only by sexual orientation, but by a common preference of sexual activity which falls outside the dominant idea of accepted sexual conduct. The act of photographing these men magnifies the stigma they carry, which ultimately reinforces difference perceived by those outside their community. In doing so I found that this group wears their stigma as a source of pride, which tends to nullify any sense of superiority one might get when viewing portraits of otherness.

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