As a precipitate of the relation between the photographer and the subject, the portrait inscribes a balance of power, in which one of the two dominates the subject’s representation. In Jess Dugan’s color portraits of people in the LGBT community (she herself is in the process of changing from female to male), Dugan takes the lead. All of her subjects radiate an unremitting intensity—never relaxed, betraying a smile in only a few cases, and yet never painted and certainly never stoical, dispassionate or nonchalant. They communicate a burning defiance, a sense that “I will not be moved,” that is diversified by each one’s particular temperament and physical bearing—Dugan does not homogenize her subjects; she simply gives each of them a signature attitude, one that every person takes at some moments in life. Dugan’s most striking work is a double-portrait diptych in which two women interrupt each other’s personal space. Their gestures suggest both a slap and a caress, yet neither subject is erotic or aggressive, only deeply intent. Their interaction breaches the frame’s divide to unite the double portrait. (Michael Weinstein)
Through October 27 at Schneider Gallery, 230 West Superior
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