Posts Tagged ‘genderqueer’

Dan Govan

As part of our ongoing local queer artist residency at Dalston Superstore Gallery, this Thursday sees the launch our next exhibition ‘Living Vivid’ by Dan Govan!

Dan Govan is an Edinburgh born, camera-carrying, usually-anxious, glamour-adjacent wallflower, for whom photography was a hobby that’s grown wildly out of control. He started with snapshots of nights out
in 2008, but as he moved to east London in 2011 he was naturally was dabbling in club photography by 2012.  A couple of years ago he started dabbling in portraiture. Self portraits at first, exploring vulnerability and colour, muting masculinity in vivid disorienting colours. His latest project ‘Queernift’ documents the eccentric faces of the East London LGBTQ+ Nightlife Scene. 

We caught up with Dan to chat about where Queernift started, some standout experiences of photographing Drag Queens and whats next for Queernift!


Hello Dan! Can you let your readers know a little bit about your background?
Hi! I’m a sorta-Scottish, nerdy wallflower who’s been floating around gay clubs, pubs and shows in London since 2008. Until last year I always had a camera with me but now I mostly do over-colourful studio portraiture.

The work that you are exhibiting at Dalston Superstore, is the Queernift project which documents the faces of London’s LGBTQ+ nightlife scene. Why did you start this project?
I thought it was an exciting opportunity to collaborate with and signal boost some of the local queer artists promoting their work. It’s been nice to be able to give back to this community that puts so much work into creating queer spaces, putting on so many shows and nights over the years.
How did you come to know the queer performers that you photograph? 
It’s usually people I’ve met out and about! I guess it’s a community project at heart because while sometimes it will be a friend of a friend, by the time the shoot is done we’ve normally gotten to know each other a bit. It’s all people who visit, party and work in the same iconic venues and spaces that I do.
What draws you to portraiture?
Whether I’m shooting events, performances or portraiture, I try to capture situations rather than things. Reactions and relationships. People are always at the core of that. The real kick comes when I manage to show people looking better than they think they look. That’s always a thrill.
Through the series there is a consistent strong use of colour. What is the significance to this?
So much contemporary photography pretends to be realistic. It’s not. There’s artful makeup and hair, lights and loadsa photoshopping. Even when I shoot people not in a lewk I still stick with a similar colour formula, because I want my work to be self-evidently fantastical, open about the fact it’s not what you’d see in the mirror, and celebrate it a bit more. Why be humdrum?
What has inspired your work?
Mostly I’m inspired by the queer icons of the scene around me, though I’ve been blown away by some local photographers documenting aspects of a similar subculture, like Luxxer, Corinne Cumming, Kate Bones, Damien Frost and Eivind Hansen
As this is your first exhibition IRL, and you’ve mainly used Instagram to showcase your work.  Has social media been useful to your practice or has it been shaped by social media?
Oh queernift is basically an instagram project really, the format follows the 3-wide grid and it’s been so cool chatting to people all over the world about my work! I have another project barenift that’ll have a few pictures up at the exhibition too, that also the same 3-wide format; I fear the day instagram changes the grid!
East London’s Drag Queens aren’t known for being the most introverted of characters. So we’d imagine photographing would bring about some ‘special’ memories. Any stand out experiences photographing them ?
I think my favourite shoots have been when I do a couple of friends at once, taking turns in front of the camera the energy’s always really great. I recently had a shoot with Delirium though who arrived when she said she would, packed 3 very different looks into just 2 poly bags, changed quickly, posed to the gods, and we were all done in an hour. I was amazed.
Who else in East London’s LGBTQ+ Nightlife would you love to photograph?
Oh there’s tons of people that I’ve wanted to shoot for a while but we’ve never quite got it together and I feel shy about badgering them. And a few more that I never got around to asking! Rhys Pieces, Margo Marshal, Ginger Johnson, Grace Shush, Maxi More… Dozens more probably. I used to have a list that I was working through but it made me super anxious so I had to ditch it.

Whats next for Queernift?

Well I have a half dozen new shoots to post after the exhibition launches, after that I’ve no idea, more of all of it I hope? More shoots more people more followers. I’l have to think of ways to expand the formula but as long as there’s new people it’s always interesting. Of course there’s physical proof that the work exists now, I’ve no idea what effect that will have, exciting times!

Catch ‘Living Vivid’ at Dalston Superstore from Thursday 6th September till Early November!  


This Friday sees the first instalment of MEGALAST, our brand new extravaganza from J. Aria + Ni-Ku! Expect extreme bass, acidic explorations and alien club music. Headlining this experimental, abrasive, uncompromising and trip-inducing experience is LOFT (Astral Plane)!

Following their first release in 2016, the queer Mancunian producer has been quickly making waves. With their mixes encompassing rave birthed drum programming, experimental electronics and kylie edits, their style is renowned for its uniqueness.  Having featured in both Crack Magazine and Mixmag, as well as an EP with the label Wisdom Teeth and contributions to the Astral Plane compilation, LOFT is trailblazing the experimental music scene. More recently, LOFT was given the ultimate seal of approval: Björk selected their track Funemployed alongside the most innovative artists in the game, including Arca and Kelela, in her Mixmag cover mix

We caught up with the experimental producer to chat about their performative DJ sets, their experience of being visibly queer in the nightlife scene and what we can expect from Friday!




Oh hey LOFT, we are SO excited to have you at Dalston Superstore! If our readers aren’t acquainted, can you tell us a little bit about you?

Hello hi friends , I am Joeli and I do the LOFT thing. I’ve been doing it since I was about 14. I make stuff that has the privilege of Wisdom Teeth and Astral Plane Recordings’ love, support and distribution networks.

You’ve been making music since you were 14?! That is quite awhile! Do you have any highlights to your DJ career so far?

Playing in a pub in Lancaster for the drummer of my dad’s best friend’s new krautrock excursion ; playing at a club in Athens where people don’t show up until 2AM at the earliest ; playing in the home HQ safe haven that is The White Hotel on numerous occasions with only the best lineups.



You must have been introduced to some talented DJs, do you take inspiration from anyone?

I’m big into feedback loops , I like listening to Ariana acapella tracks , I’m honoured to be surrounded by people as talented as Anastassia Radtsenko IceBoy Violet, Acre, Forrest Lloyd ,Hesska MICHAELBRAILEY, Szare ; Manchester is fertile atm.

You’re known for having a really unique mixing style, how did you develop this and what is your process in choosing tracks and creating new pieces?

When I was 17 I was a vinyl purist , I’ve done a lot of live “ controllerist “ live sets . I hope I can offer something more dynamic than either of the above these days . Honestly I’m just scrambling for the next tune that will make any ( or no ) sense against the preceding track . 


There seems to be almost a theatrical element about you at the decks. Did you intend to integrate performance into your sets?

I get drunk and write poems sometimes and occasionally I perform these to an audience . My main aspiration is to make people feel so included that tears roll from their little eyes . 

Queer Femme producers are at the forefront of the Manchester electronic music scene at the moment, with Castles in the Sky seeming to be paving the way. Have you found solidarity and support through other queers at the top of the game?

Yes absolutely, I would argue that queerness requires no explicity and as such most of the people that have chosen to work with me over the last couple years are at least “ queer sympathisers “ . Love and support is strongest feeling I get from everyone I work with. 

How have you experienced being visibly queer in the nightlife//club scene?

Y’no what ? it’s been alright , sure I experience some weird stereotyping and code switching ( I always find it funny when someone’s like “ Oh honneeeeyyyy “ and I’m ale drunk and respond in a fairly deep northern vernacular ) but within my surrounding club culture I feel pretty safe . The bad shit happens outside of that . 




From your experience playing around the UK and abroad, how do you think queer nightlife can be improved?

More queer spaces in cities outside London . Manchester has a huge gay scene but , as I’m sure we all know , queer =/= gay . BOYGIRL we building it .

So, what would your queer-utopia look like? 

Cop out answer : I couldn’t possibly comprehend . I’d make a comment about it requiring the pursuit of each individual’s ideals but that sounds a bit Randian now doesn’t it ?!

Finally, what can we expect from your premier DJ set at DSS?

Fun , tears , hugging each other , maybe a couple minutes white noise .Honestly I’m so honoured to have been invited.


Catch LOFT at MegaLast: LOFT, KRY, NI-KU, ELLES + J.ARIA this Friday at Dalston Superstore 9pm-3am!


The Test Shot

We sat down with the creators of London-based trans-masculine photography site, The Test Shot, to find out more about their wonderful and positive project. Featuring stylish Londoners; each shoot is accompanied with an interview about that person’s own personal style, their favourite clothes and fashion inspirations. Photographer LGW and business partner Jamie are setting out to break past the media’s more typical portrayal of trans people by giving a more intimate look into real lives via fashion and style…
What was the catalyst for starting your photography project, The Test Shot?

 LGW: Well, myself and Jamie both spent quite a lot of time feeling outraged by instances of sensationalism in the press regarding trans* people. It was actually Jamie’s idea- he emailed me because he wanted my opinion on the idea of starting a style blog that looks as the relationship between clothing and masculinity. The focus would be on transmasculine identified people who use style to create/translate their gender identity. What really caught my attention was the idea that this blog would look beyond a cismasculine ideal. In Jamie’s words: “I want it to be interesting, personal to whomever is contributing/being interviewed and to look properly mint.”

Jamie:  Based on the various discussions we had about trans portrayal in the media, we both wanted to create something that wasn’t based on the typical tropes (such as surgery), and as LGW says, we didn’t want to approach gender identity in the expected way or through typical narratives. At that time it was difficult to find material on style that included transmasculine people visually, apart from perhaps the issue of Original Plumbing dedicated to fashion (and we later discovered the trans presence on DapperQ).  

Why did you choose Tumblr as the medium for showcasing it?

Jamie: We deliberately wanted to make The Test Shot an online project because it’s so much easier to work independently. Plus, you have automatic presence. Using a Tumblr template pretty much meant that we could develop a project immediately. Making positive change in mainstream media is such a painstakingly slow process and yet using Tumblr we had a trans* style site out of nowhere, based on not much more than a good idea and LGW’s photography skills.  That was very motivating and empowering. We also felt that Tumblr was the right choice because it’s so much about visuality and images. We wanted to make an intervention and carve out an online presence in a visual sense. 
What was the thinking behind the name of the project? Is it a nod to the style aspect of the shoots?

LGW: It refers to a few things; test shoots in the film and fashion industries involve trying out new ideas and equipment in advance of fully developing a concept- they’re tentative and experimental. You make discoveries about what works and what doesn’t and that informs how you move forward. Similarly, with style and self presentation there is a lot of trial and error until you finally become comfortable with how you’re being perceived. I think this is especially true for trans* people. Also, it alludes to the process of taking testosterone- one of the key treatments available for transmasculine people to allow themselves to transition physically and socially. Although I’d like to point out that not all trans* people, and certainly not all the people we’ve worked with on the blog decide to take that route.

 The interviews really add depth to the shoots, was this something you wanted to do from the start or did they evolve naturally along with each shoot?

 LGW: Yes, it was always our aim to give each participant a platform and to make the project more collaborative. One of our responses to the media’s sensationalist treatment of trans subjects was to find more authentic and positive voices. If you Google ‘trans man’, and come to our site rather than some tabloid horror story, you subtly start to change people’s perceptions of what it means to be transgendered. Also, the shoots are a hybrid between fashion and documentary. We don’t choose fancy locations, just people’s homes or nearby streets, and giving each person an opportunity to speak for themselves makes the whole thing more rewarding and true to life.

Jamie: Having texts to accompany the shoots was always key for us. I think subtle shades in gender identity can’t necessarily be perceived visually and it’s really important for people to have space to articulate themselves. Trans people are so often discussed as if we’re all the same and being trans means only one thing. The photography on the blog suggests that this isn’t the case, but the degree to which we are diverse really only becomes apparent in the interviews. 

What’s your favourite snap from your own Test Shots?

 LGW: I like the more casual stuff I chose to wear; the bolo tie and blue plaid shirt combination is one of my favourites. My best friend gave me that shirt, and the bolo tie reminds me of the hot gay cowboys in Brokeback Mountain.

LGW's Test Shot

Jamie: I think what I like most about my shoot is the colours in the room – they are so vibrant. 

Jamie's Test Shot

How would you each describe your own style?

 LGW: Charity shop meets Brit Pop. 

Jamie: “Slightly preppy librarian on dress down Fridays”. Sometimes it goes a bit wrong  – the other day I found myself wearing suede green brogues with mid-blue jeans, and a cream and white cowboy-style shirt that I had tucked it.  It was so totally “gay Texan dad at the PTA meeting”. Weird.

Not to make you pick favourites here, but what has been the most interesting outfit you’ve shot so far?

LGW: There has been a few (I won’t pick favourites!). Faizan has a lot of clothing he’d brought back with him from Pakistan, including shoes made of tyres which I loved, as it took me out of the familiar. Grey had a military style jacket with amazing symmetry. Seb’s cat shirt is by far the most tumbled thing on our site at the moment- it has 510 notes as of today.

Seb's Test Shot

– Jamie: Shooting Seb’s onesie was fun, but mainly because we made them run around in front of their house in Forest Hill next to a bunch of guys playing five-a-side.  In general, I liked any item of clothing that had a particular value to the person wearing it. It’s amazing how much thought and history can be behind a simple piece of clothing. So no, I won’t choose! 
Since being featured on Buzzfeed, what has the feedback been like?

 LGW: That Buzzfeed article has done wonders for our social media clout- we were inundated with followers on Tumblr almost instantly after that went live. I’ve actually had colleagues come over and say they spotted me on Buzzfeed last week, which is interesting because I don’t talk much about my gender identity at work. It’s all been positive so far, and we get a lot of interest from the trans* community in the USA in particular. We won an International Presenter Scholarship earlier this year for our work, which means we get an all expenses paid trip to Philadelphia to run a workshop on DIY trans representation online. Hopefully the Buzzfeed article will add some context to the people who come and attend that.

Jamie: Two days ago someone from Tennessee wrote to us saying that our project made them feel less alone after discovering the blog on Buzzfeed.  I still think it’s amazing that The Test Shot can have such a tangible and positive emotional effect on someone’s life. I guess it shows that digital media very much isn’t in a vacuum and intersects fundamentally with “real life”. That’s so important to bear in mind when creating trans-related content. 

You have shot topless trans men who’ve had “top surgery”. Was this an aspect of transition that you specifically wanted to feature or just something that happened?

LGW: Both the shoots where guys have gone topless happened in summer and outside, so yeah it wasn’t a planned thing- more practical if anything. I remember Felix had only recently recovered from his surgery when we shot with him; he was really happy with the results and wanted to document it in some way. And one of Liam’s outfit choices included S&M style PVC shorts and braces, a look that really works if you’re topless. Plus that way we could see more of his tattoos. Generally, the blog is about lifestyle and living confidently, and part of that includes having top surgery for some guys- I’m glad those shots are included but they’re not a focus point for us. 

Jamie: It is true that for a lot of trans* guys and genderqueer masculine people top sugery is a defining moment in their transition and allows them to be free in their bodies in a new and transformative way. There is a common perception outside of trans communities of top surgery as being too radical, drastic or a step too far. I think trans guys who have surgery embrace it is a physically painful yet totally enriching experience. I suppose it’s a sort of rite of passage. However,  we want to show that there are a range of trans* bodies as well as a range of styles. Having surgery doesn’t make you “more trans”, it’s just a particular expression of being trans. 

Will you shooting any transatlantic test shots whilst at the Trans Health Conference in Philadelphia this year?

LGW: I’m taking my camera gear with me so we can get some shots at the conference, and we have planned to shoot with a gender-neutral clothing range based in Philly so it’s a healthy mix of work and play. If we make any friends who want to do an impromptu shoot, I’m more than up for it!

All images courtesy of The Test Shot.