Matrimonial ties is an umbrella title that encompasses various projects and responses to the historical and cultural significance of the couple/wedding portrait in western culture. The works originated in 2013 with Home and Away as a personal reflection on the current state of social change in Britain, Europe and America around notions or definitions of marriage. In this series of images, the couple, my partner Peter and I, were literally presented as ‘outsiders’ looking into the domestic environment as a picture of ‘otherness’
2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of male homosexuals in England following the Wolfenden report.
As an academic I have been critical of the way photography is used to reaffirm notions of belonging and otherness in relation to family portraiture. As a consequence, there is little photographic evidence of the 28 years that Peter and I have spent together. As Peter is in his late 70s and I am in my early 50s, there seemed to be an urgency to address this in my own mind, and explore alternatives to the couple/marriage/wedding portrait, if nothing other than to leave a trace of our presence in the world.
Whilst one cultural definition might shift, there is a personal awareness that individuals forming relationships across generation divides, whether straight or gay, will always be problematic ‘home-makers’, especially in terms of representation and conveyed meaning. To present the figures as an ‘odd couple’ is a useful metaphor to notions of home, belonging, acceptance and otherness.
Till death us do part is a series of absurd permutations of the wedding portrait. These performative responses to ideas of marriage and domesticity evoke a sense of the uncanny – the ‘homely and un-homely’.
See here for more of John Paul’s work.
John Paul was recently awarded a portrait prize in the 9th Kuala Lumpur Photoawards 2017. John Paul is currently showing work at ACCI Gallery from 1 – 24 September, at Edifício do Castelo Museum in September and October, and will featured in the upcoming Dodho publication.