Elle Pérez was born in 1989 in Bronx, New York and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Since receiving their MFA from Yale School of Art in 2015, Pérez has worked primarily in photography, depicting the intimate moments, emotional exchanges, and visceral details of their subjects and landscapes.
Early on in their career, Pérez photographed aspiring entertainment wrestlers in the Bronx, fascinated by the performativity and choreography of the wrestling matches. Pérez continues to play with the notion of authenticity, utilizing a collaborative approach to portrait photography that blurs the lines between traditional documentary, still life, and landscape photography.
Working closely with their peers from the LGBTQIA+ community as their subjects, Pérez visualizes the complexities of gender identity: the scars left behind on a subject’s chest after surgery, intertwined limbs after a moment of intimacy, a worn and tattered breast binder. Imbued with desire and a profound sense of care for their subjects, the photographs depict the traces of queer experiences and reflect the ever changing nature of identity.
Pérez relates this undefinable and unboundaried quality of queerness to photography, calling the “photograph a perfect container because it is not actually, ever, definitive.”
Executive director and chief curator Tina Kukielski delivers a dispatch of Art21’s latest on-goings.
In a new film from our “New York Close Up” series, photographer Elle Pérez ruminates on power of the photograph to capture the moments that words can’t describe.