New Orleans has always been one of several major Southern cities that beats to its own queer rhythms. With its rich histories and seemingly endless parades of parties and personality, NOLA attracts artists at all stages.
Femme photographer, Sarah Danziger, has lived and documented the city and its queer residents for the last eight years. Using vibrant color palettes and a keen eye for the in-between moments, Danziger’s portraits create unique testaments to her subjects.
“Diversity and booty shorts all year round,” she says, when asked to describe Queer South.
WUSSY spoke to Danziger about her background, vision, and inspiration.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
Through photographing mainly my friends for the last 16 years (8 of which have taken place in New Orleans), I've explored what it means to me to be defined as a woman and what I have discovered to be the actual diversity within that historically limiting binary. I identify predominantly as a femme. Femme to me means feminine yet not necessarily female, but also female but not entirely feminine. Female to me speaks of what body parts I was born with but nothing about who I am as a person or what I may or may not be capable of doing or experiencing in my life. I've used the camera as a tool for this exploration and for a greater understanding of myself and those around me.
What do you look for in your photographic subjects?
I am drawn to people who have a strong personality and idea around who they are and how they want to present themselves to the world, but at the same time are willing to stand in front of the camera, which is inherently a vulnerable act and one that requires mutual trust. There is hardly a photograph that I've taken that I don't consider a collaboration between me and the subject being photographed. My goal is to capture the person as they are and not as I want them to be; life as it exists is much more interesting than anything I could dream up.
Where do you find inspiration?
In friends. In nature. In the trash.
Talk to us about the Queer scene specifically in NOLA.
The New Orleans queer scene as it appears to me encompasses many different types of people, with different interests, and different ways of living. At the same time though, it feels like one expansive yet cohesive community with fierce guiding principles with regards to fighting for social justice, an understanding and acceptance of gender fluidity, and openness to all forms of sexual orientation. The city has been a home to queers for a long time and that is not changing; it's sexy, sweaty, constantly growing, endlessly inspiring, and there is never a shortage of femme fronted bands to see, living room dance floors to grind on, and canoes to paddle around naked in.
I'm not originally from the South but I have certainly adopted it as my home and the keeper of my heart. I will most likely die here and if I've learned one thing about this place, it's that my dearest friends will dance at my funeral. I just hope to capture them all on film before that time comes.
What does the Queer South mean to you?
Diversity and booty shorts all year round.
Who are some Queer artists we should be following on Insta?
@alokvmenon @annieflanagan @ateamer @bunnymichael @collardgreens5 @chaninicholas @chris.bernstein @divideanddissolve @fluct.tv @halalpig @harm_seduction @hbdmarsha @hugogyrl @iamkelseylu @imp_kid @lindeezimmer @lizzobeeating @michael_morocco @motomaidensnola @psychic_handjob #reinagossett @riis.beach @shittypebbles @sultana.isham @tellthemisaidhi @totaltwit @youcancallme_cookie @venmomethemcarthurgrant @we_will_all_be_well
Are you developing or working on any new projects?
Yes, I'm forever working on my Wild Woman to the Front series (shoutout to Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Kathleen Hanna for inspiring the name), but recently I started focusing on photographing my friends and acquaintances more and in really deliberate ways; using the camera and its collaborative nature as a way to connect with people and show folks that I really see them. Anything I would try to do outside of my community would just be a recreation, so I figure I should just go straight to the source.
Where can we find your work?
@dearsarrah, www.sarrahdanziger.com, or on my parent's walls in Woodstock, NY.