Elle Pérez's photos explore the inherent intimacy and power-plays in relationships

Elle Pérez, Mae at Riis Beach, 2020/2021

Elle Pérez, Mae at Riis Beach, 2020/2021

Addressing intimacy, vulnerability and the "relationship between seeing and love", photographer Elle Pérez uses human intimacy as both their subject and process in their photography.

Born in 1989 in the Bronx, New York, Pérez is currently showing a new photography series titled Devotions at the Carnegie Museum of Art, as part of the institution's 84th instalment of its Forum series.

Broadly speaking, the works explore relationships—both sexual and platonic—and the inherent vulnerabilities and power dynamics that come with any type of intimacy. As such, many of the images capture bodies. Some of these are more traditional, perhaps depicting an embrace; others use unusual approaches to colour, light, scale and cropping.

"Intimacy intrigues me with its mysteries," says Pérez. "The ties between my gender identity, kink, sexuality, pleasure, and pain are all interwoven. Instead of attempting to untangle them, I work within these complexities."

 Elle Pérez, pull, 2020/2021

Elle Pérez, pull, 2020/2021

Elle Pérez, t, 2019

Elle Pérez, t, 2019

Throughout Devotions, Pérez often references more natural elements too, with recurring motifs of landscapes and water that underscore the idea of touch that features throughout.

"An ambiguous narrative emerges from Pérez’s carefully sequenced images—moments of grief and care, pain and pleasure, desire and self-exploration—creating space for us to reflect on how we define ourselves and our lived experiences in relation to others and the wider world," says the museum. " Rather than stand outside looking in as other photographers might, Pérez works through their creative process as a friend, a lover, an intimate participant."

Elle Pérez' show is organised by Hannah Turpin, curatorial assistant for modern and contemporary art and photography with Dan Leers, curator of photography. The artist has previously shown their work at MoMA PS1, 47 Canal, The Brooklyn Museum and The Whitney Museum in the US, and the Barbican, London, among other venues.

Elle Pérez, American, b. 1989, Tomashi and Ally I, 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, American, b. 1989, Tomashi and Ally I, 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, Hold, 2020/2021

Elle Pérez, Hold, 2020/2021

Elle Pérez, animal, 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, animal, 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, Force (Fire Island), 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, Force (Fire Island), 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, Stone memory, 2020/2021
 


Elle Pérez, Stone memory, 2020/2021
 


Elle Pérez, Ascension (Fire Island), 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, Ascension (Fire Island), 2019/2021

Elle Pérez, Sanctuary, 2020/2021

Elle Pérez, Sanctuary, 2020/2021