Cherry Au Hon I's People, Place, Take Up Space arrives at the Bermondsey Project Space with a clear message, and it's all in the name. Having been ignored by society for too long, this exhibition serves not as a request but an order for queer people to start filling up spaces that have traditionally belonged to people who have fitted the outdated patriarchal stereotype.
Although the exhibition will first be shown to the public on 1 February 2022, Au's work for the project began back in 2015 as a portrait series to counteract how isolating London can often feel, especially when deemed an outsider, looking in. Although not knowing what would eventually become of the series, Au started using photography as a tool for forging new connections, discovering community, recording life stories, and archiving queer histories.
Making up the backbone of People, Place, Take Up Space is a collection of intimate portraits of more than 100 queer people from across Europe and Asia of different ages, races and backgrounds, all represented in their own environments. 'I often take photos in the subjects' bedrooms', Au started in the press release. It feels like there is part of them in there; you can spot little hints and clues about their personality, interests and what's important to them. It adds another layer to the image and shows who they are and how they move in the world.' Whether Au's subjects have been photographed on their houseboat on London's canals, a caravan in Berlin, or in a vintage shop in Taipei, each portrait is raw, unashamedly honest and contextually rich. The idea of 'safe spaces' have always been integral to communities that have sat on the fringes of society, and as Au has delicately revealed through her work, no space is safer than one's own room.
People, Place, Take Up Space will be on show to the public from 1 February 2022 until 12 February.