Mark McKnight’s Photographs Celebrate Queer Desire and Embrace Contradiction

Mark McKnight’s Photographs Celebrate Queer Desire and Embrace Contradiction

January 15, 2020 3 By Peter Engel


I am mark McKnight I am a
photographer and an arts educator and the winner of the 2019 Aperture
Portfolio Prize. I think one of the most important things I would want to impart
on a person looking at this show or my work in general is that it’s
about my subjectivity. It’s about my humanity and my very specific
experience. At a really young age I think I felt in some ways like an alien,
like I might be the only person with these non-normative desires, and there
was some part of me that wondered if this sort of unrequited desire is
something I would continue experiencing for the entirety of my life. And because
of that, I think the sort of refusal or the not having the thing, in some
ways that became a part of desire itself for me. And I think that’s really present
in the pictures, in the way that the subjects are constantly turned away and
they feel both intimate but also refused or inaccessible. You know, I give this
advice to students and friends and I don’t always take it, but you
have to tell the universe what you want. If you don’t ask for what you want,
you’re probably not going to get it, and I feel like even taking the step of
putting together the application, it’s a way of telling oneself that that one
wants an audience. Even as someone that’s also applied for many things and
not gotten them, even the simple act of applying for something allows for
me to sit down and think about my work and really put pen to paper and give
language to the work. So that’s one gift really of applying.
Getting to be a part of the legacy of this foundation and magazine is just
mind-blowing to me. It’s such an honor, not to mention it’s an organization that was founded by so many photographers that are
incredibly important to me. Ultimately, when you’re making work, it’s
because you want to engage, and this prize has allowed me to engage in a
broader way and in the best possible way.