What drives you to document LGBTQ spaces, as you did in your project The UK Gay Bar Directory?
We started filming gay bars with a GoPro camera in 2014, with no particular outcome in mind. Before we knew it Candy Bar, the George and Dragon, and Joiners Arms—all busy, successful, and culturally important gay bars in London—had shut their doors followed by a spate of other closures nationally. Between 2006 and 2017, 58 percent of LGBTQ venues closed
down; it was an epidemic.
In response to these closures and the heightened atmosphere of fear and mourning in the community, we dedicated nine months to traveling the U.K., forcing ourselves into male-dominant or male-only spaces, filming gay bars, and creating an archive that would function both as an art work, a public resource, and a call to arms. There was an urgency to the project that drove us to such a gargantuan undertaking. Often, we would arrive in a city and a much-loved gay bar had closed its doors only days before. The feeling of loss permeated the archive, which has a ghostly, elegiac quality.
Do you believe your work responds to––or critiques––hierarchies at play in the LGBTQ community?
We explore how the contemporary gay rights movement has aligned itself with the state, the police, the military, and with property developers at the expense of its own community. But, we are interested in the messy, gray areas, where these alignments blur with sexual fantasy, such as BDSM, or are complicated by personal narratives. Often, it feels that we are handling extremely sensitive rubrics of power. How do we work to historically contextualize a community ravaged by AIDS, neglected by the government, whilst acknowledging the underlying leverage of white supremacy in the distribution of resources allocated to this community?
Drawing has been an important medium to explore how the dynamics of power play out in the social sphere, infusing each scene with social tension that vacillates between love and violence. It’s this point, between love and violence, or critique and celebration, that excites and intrigues us.