Joseph Maida’s Things “R” Queer series uses still life photography to express queer identity and reflect upon contemporary material culture. With saturated colours that pop, the images make palpable the references in Maida’s work to pop art, camp culture, food porn, advertising campaigns, and kawaii culture (a Japanese term for “cuteness”). Maida queries the aesthetic approach of documentary, or “straight,” photography by playing with scale, perception, stasis, and movement. By reorienting the functions of the pictured objects, these subversive tableaux offer visual cues to suggest playfulness, leisure, indulgence, and gender fluidity. Installed at Olympic Village Station, each image is printed at larger-than-life scale, radiating eye-catching colours and humorous juxtapositions.
This ongoing series began in the artist’s studio as an exercise to “make a photo a day” and share it on the social media platform Instagram. By mixing his artworks into the feed of everyday, autobiographical moments, Maida uses Instagram to consider and re-evaluate the distribution and consumption of their work. Since 2014, Things “R” Queer has had many lives, circulating on social media, in publications and exhibitions, on postcards, as NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and now as a public art installation. In contrast to a painting or sculpture, the varied presentation of this body of work highlights that the life of a photograph does not exist as one but as multiples. Maida takes this idea of plurality further by adding new images to and creating novel experiential contexts for the series, ensuring its meaning remains fluid.
Presented in partnership with Canada Line Public Art Program – InTransit BC