Holding Space for Yourself
In conversation with Matthew Burgos, January 11, 2023
People — Art, Photography
Holding Space evokes a sense of altruism. A giver of sanctuary without expecting anything in return. A guardian of someone’s physical, mental, and emotional state by being present with them. A book collecting anthologies of stories and photographs of queer couples. A project Ryan Pfluger carried out to look into the life, love, and relationship dynamics of the queer community through a queer lens.
For the project, Pfluger surrenders the narrative control over his collaborators (which he prefers to call them rather than models or subjects). Photographers who uphold their eye for concepts, visuals, and outcomes may often dictate the flow of the shoot, but the LA/NYC-based photographer freely lets his queer collaborators steer the direction of the shoot, from their movement and positions to the images that are published in the book. More so, Pfluger curates a safe space for them to be vulnerable and reflect on their relationship dynamics. Not once does he force a question for them to answer, but he offers prompts instead that soon elicit raw narratives about how the couples’ connection was founded and grounded.
At one point, Pfluger feels as if his photo book is slowly transitioning into a nonfiction book, brimming with disclosures that are now visible in the public sphere. Passersby can get a hold of his book, rifle through the intimacy that powers through every shot, and digest the revelations of the queer couples about the highs and lows of their relationships. The book, once thought of as a project, becomes a companion to navigating the veracity behind different relationships.
Present Space sits down with Ryan Pfluger to listen to him as guides us onto his own discoveries during the conception of his book, the diary entries style of the texts, the boundaries of lust and intimacy, and the challenges even he himself faced in his relationship with the people he met for the first time.
Interview MATTHEW BURGOS
All images courtesy of RYAN PFLUGER
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