THE KISSING BOOTH
“The Kissing Booth” project creates a space where I invite the public to pose kissing a friend, lover, spouse or passerby. Stepping inside the booth, you are surrounded by many small photos of men kissing men and women kissing women. As I photograph your private moment of intimacy, you may be reminded of the same-sex affection taking place in the world all around you. I created this work to address the discomfort we might feel around homosexual public displays of affection.
The booth part of the project is a semi-enclosed, free-standing wood structure that is collapsible for quick and easy set up in public locations. The bottom has a front panel of 48” x 48” with hinged panels at each side that are 20” wide. Over this is a header 48” x 13” that stands at 92” attached by poles. Referencing county fairs, the entire booth is covered in a red and white checked gingham pattern with the words “Kissing Booth” on the top header. When you are standing close, you can see that many of the 1” squares have been replaced with small images of two men or two women kissing. The photographs are chaste, only showing the head and shoulders, lips pressing gently.
With the “Kissing Booth” set up in a public place, I ask people passing by if they would like to pose for a kissing portrait. Any combination of gender, sexual orientation or personal relationship is welcome. My photographs are uploaded to a website (www.whenguyskiss.com). Instructions on the side of the booth also allow for public interaction when I am not present. Selfies shot with participants’ own cameras can be posted online via Twitter or Instagram using #whenguyskiss. The website automatically congregates all comments or images with that hashtag.
For my performances, I like to have an object I have created in order to attract passersby to the project, whether the work takes place on the street or in an arts venue. I find it gives a central visual and conceptual focus to the piece. The public becomes my collaborators and helps create the work. My intention with this project is to have a conversation about how we feel about seeing same-sex couples express their affections for each other in public. Some would maintain that all same sex affection should be hidden or even nonexistent. Others are comfortable seeing two women kiss but not two men kissing. Any type of couple is welcome to pose for a kiss and all comments are welcome on the website.