Kristina Knipe

2015 - Ongoing

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

My roommate jumped out of a building on Mardi Gras day while rolling on ecstasy. She broke her ankle and spent that night in a hospital bed. I couldn't be of any help as I had scratched my cornea with glitter. On Easter, a mended friend gave us a broken wheelchair to roll around the French Quarter chasing after Ostara and the Gay Easter Parade. To memorialize her injured ankle we arranged a tableau of broken goblets, molding banana blossoms, her old cast, and opulent detritus. Debauchery scars the body.

These 4x5 negatives offer details in excess--a rhinestone shimmering behind the wing of a dead cockroach, a cracked magnifying glass amplifies a passionflower, oxidation from a brass ring turns Antony’s finger green. To transgress the historic photographic ordering of society, I embrace mess and its attendant spectacle. Queer ritual disrupts engrained hierarchies, rejecting outmoded classifications. In New Orleans the altars, masquerades, and decadences create a visual and material excess that heals as it depletes. I adorn my sitters in our shared materials to create a transformative experience of pleasure.

The concrete reality of those I photograph consists of the burden of maintaining mental health without healthcare, of being a person whose role is to make other’s spaces beautiful which by necessity means repurposing objects for their own, of having traumatic experiences with no recourse, cycles of depression in the service of the hospitality industry, expressing gender and sexuality despite judgement, and persisting in generative work through loss. My story is intertwined with those I photograph- we cohabit spaces and experiences within a community of artists, activists, and healers.

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