Navigating the erotics of queer identity with Jody Evans' self-portraiture zine

After taking a look at their latest zine, Devon-born photographer Jody Evans is one of the new photography talents we're incredibly excited about.

20 June 2023


The work of Jody Evans won our hearts thanks to its incredible intimacy. The London-based photographer documents all faces of the community, but in their zine Self Portraits released earlier this year, the lens turned onto themselves. “The zine is in part a coming out story,” Jody tells us. “It looks at ways that I felt I’d performed for cis straight men both in and out of the bedroom.” Shades of Catherine Opie, Phyllis Christopher and Robert Mapplethorpe are apparent throughout the black-and-white zine, and Jody masters the art of self-portrait in new, queer ways. “I also wanted to look at ways of presenting butchness and femininity for the queer gaze,” they add. “And to express this in awkward and messy ways to talk about the fluidity and imperfections in queerness.”

This collection of self-portraits certainly delves into the realms of sexuality, queerness and unease. Jody skillfully engages with unconventional expressions and sensuality to investigate their personal journey of self-acceptance and the disquiet associated with conforming to societal gender expectations for the pleasure of others. The assemblage showcases analogue prints developed in a darkroom, intimate glimpses of post-coital beds and introspective annotations found within the artist's sketchbook. “I think discomfort is expressed in the zine through imperfections and body language,” Jody explains. “The shots where shoes are missing, backdrops are not fully filling the frame and I’m stumbling over to give me a sense of awkwardness and unease.”

GalleryJody Evans: Self-Portrait (Copyright © Jody Evans, 2023)

It’s these “subtleties”, Jody says, that she relies on to express queerness and discomfort in Self-Portrait. “Queerness for me is more complex than the way you dress or who you sleep with,” they tell us. “The switch between imperfect ways of presenting stereotypes in the zine of butch/femme/leather dyke then seeks to disrupt stereotypes and the assumptions we make of queer folk from the ways we present ourselves.” On a favourite image in Self-Portrait, the photographer quickly points to a shot of themselves lifting up their dress. “I felt a lot of discomfort taking that picture and embodying that character again,” they explain. “I dressed in the underwear I bought to feel sexy for an ex-partner and put on my most femme outfit.” For Jody, the act of undressing allowed her to play around with obscuring the face gaze, prompting audiences to question the consent of the subject. “It’s like, come fuck me, but I don’t want to see,” Jody says. “Perhaps a little insight into the hyper-sexuality and discomfort I felt with myself when I used to sleep with cis straight men.”

Overall, it’s a beautiful debut by a promising young talent in the London photography scene. For so long, the art of the eroticised self-portrait or erotic documentarian photography seemed to be on its way out. With Jody, there’s a promising new future for the form. As for Jody’s next project, there’s two in the pipeline that we’re eager to see. “I am beginning a documentary project on queer love languages,” they tell us. “Photographing lovers, families and relationships of all ages and backgrounds, and talking to them about the ways that they express their love.” And, an exciting new photo book (we’ve already got to see a sneak peak of) coming out in September that develops Jody’s – now signature – style.

GalleryJody Evans: Self-Portrait (Copyright © Jody Evans, 2023)

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Jody Evans: Self-Portraits (Copyright © Jody Evans, 2023)

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About the Author

Joey Levenson

Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.

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