A century of same-sex couples

reunions-05In Reunions, Steven Beckly reclaims old photographs of same-sex couples, constructing a contemporary album “through the queering of past identities, relationships, and histories,” the Toronto-based artist says. He’s at Toronto Image Works Gallery to May 31, part of the Scotiabank Contact Festival.


Drawn from his collection of studio portraits,  snapshots and wartime images from 1880 to 1980, intimate narratives of friendship, family, and love are re-presented to expand contemporary queer discourse and the politics of representation, Beckly says. (Above: installation view)






Steven Beckly is a Toronto-based artist working with photography, publications, text, sculpture, and installation. Expanding on personal histories and intimate realities, his work explores the complexities of relationships, closeness, intimacy, and sexuality.  His work has been exhibited, screened, and published nationally and internationally. He is an MFA Candidate at the University of Guelph.

See more of Reunions on his website, here.

His Facebook, here.

His Tumblr, here.


11 replies »

  1. Possibly the images came from the LGBT archive?

    I love the idea behind this exhibit celebrating love that could not be celebrated in greater society at the time. Love is always a beautiful thing, just like this exhibit! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is a little dishonest, a lot of the subjects don’t look like same sex couples to me, maybe members of the same family, brothers and sisters, the “couples” look very similar. I would really like to see REAL old photographs of same sex couples, this is just an artificial and dishonest construction in my view. I don’t buy it.


  3. That’s a fascinating collection. I’ll have to visit his site to learn more, like how he ever got a hold of the images. And how do you know if they are really lovers and not relatives, though it does seem obvious for most of the images. I wonder how much info he has on each image, like when it was taken and who is in them.


    • As usual, a perceptive commentary from you. I did a fairly long search for more information, but had no luck getting more detail on the archival material, which seems to be something he’s collected. Didn’t have a chance to check with the gallery. I had the same questions and still hope to see the exhibition. (So maybe I can add something later)


      • Just had a class specifically on identifying information from historical photographs two days ago so I had to wonder! Thanks for looking for further info. 🙂


  4. Really interesting. I think I enlarged every image in your post. It was interesting how many portraits had one subject looking at the camera and the other subject looking a different direction . It seems like it was almost a style of a certain era. The artist’s website is also well worth viewing. Thanks for the link.


    • What an interesting observation – which way the subjects are looking. I didn’t notice that. Thank you. And perhaps you’re right about the era. I also spent quite a bit of time looking at the enlarged versions, because they’re just so compelling.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s