Ideas Series: What not going shopping means to me

not going shopping is a new body of work created by the artist Anthony Luvera in collaboration with a group of eleven people for Queer in Brighton, a project that celebrates the cultural heritage of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender* people living in Brighton & Hove. Sarah Magdalena Love is one of the participants and here we republish one of her posts from the not going shopping blog

When I contacted Anthony to take part in this project, I just knew how much I love photography and how I missed the workshops I did at the Evolution Art Centre ages ago. I write daily, sometimes for love & art and sometimes for money, so I already had a creative computer-based practice. It was amazing to leave that behind a little and start working offline more and even though I am glad that we’ll have more sessions than planned, there are already a few really good things that I know I will take away from this:

Being queer can be challenging and even heart-breaking, but its also a chance to develop a unique way of looking at the world creatively. I love being part of this community and I really, really value its creative potential and diversity.

Sarah Hebben

Photograph by Sarah Magdalena Love, not going shopping, 2013-2014, Anthony Luvera

Taking self-portraits has been a revealing journey for me. Like many queers, I have always had a rather complicated relationship with my body and don`t like having my picture taken. Constructing images that show me and reflect a part of me without displaying my face or my body in a way that puts my appearance up for debate (I chose to wear a wide black dress in all my pictures) has been empowering for me. I might have always been critical about the way women are portrait in popular media, but I never had a chance to think so much about the way all elements of a picture are there for a reason. Being alone with my camera and tripod has really sharpened my senses for these issues and I am currently writing about self-portraits as feminist practice for my blog themindfulvoyage.com.

Sarah Hebben

Photograph by Sarah Magdalena Love, not going shopping, 2013-2014, Anthony Luvera

I am really glad that Anthony encouraged us to explore our artistic freedom so much. I never felt that I was supposed to produce pictures of happy clappy queers dancing in the sunset at Brighton beach. Learning from the others in the group has been an amazing influence on my work. Not just because the creative approaches have been great, but also because I gained insight into lives and perspectives I wouldn’t have touched in my everyday life.

Finally I think this project has brought a lot of discussion about the healing elements of a creative practice and its influence on our identity into my life. Even though I have always written and had work of mine published for the first time more a decade ago, it took me a really long time to claim the word “writer” for myself, especially now that I am living in a culture that operates in a language that isn’t my own. Its the same with being an artist – for anyone else I feel that as long as someone is creating art, they are an artist. Maybe that’s true for all of us, including me. I have written down “artist” among other things in a “what are you doing with your life?”-box for the first time ever.

Originally Published at notgoingshopping.blogspot.co.uk on 14 September 2013

Related project: Queer in Brighton

Celebrating and promoting the rich cultural life of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) community in Brighton & Hove, Queer in Brighton is a heritage learning project delivered by Photoworks, New Writing South, and Pink Fringe.

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