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Biography

Michael Bailey-Gates (b.1993, USA) uses photography to gracefully dissolve binary perceptions of gender, identity and sexuality. In their intimate, exuberant portraits of themselves and the friends they collaborate with, nothing is fixed; the labels we are conditioned to use ebb into irrelevance and with each photograph expectations are tossed aside. Postures, objects, roles, relations and actions we have been told are exclusive to a few are here playfully reclaimed by anyone. For Bailey-Gates, existence and expression cannot be confined to a handful of definitions.

 

Whilst Bailey-Gates confronts the conventions that continue to marginalise so many today, they do so without hostility. Instead, Bailey-Gates’ photographs are joyous spaces of affirmation, where those in front of the camera are free to imagine, perform and exist as they wish. It is a seemingly simple underpinning, but for those who have traditionally been chastised for merely being, it is profound.

 

The photographs that emerge from Bailey-Gates’ belief in the camera as a tool of expression are candidly personal. Affection and familiarity are always present. At the same time, they are not private images. On the contrary, there is a distinct openness to Bailey-Gates’ work, felt most viscerally in the nude bodies that repeatedly appear in their frame. For many, nudity is a vulnerable state, one exposed to judgement from others. Yet for Bailey-Gates and their friends, vulnerability leads to acceptance, and acceptance leads to poise — agency in a world that still scorns what it does not understand. This ease of presence is not only seen through the liberated bodies in his photographs but also in the self-assured gazes that look back at us.

 

At the heart of Bailey-Gates’ practice is a desire to reflect a world where gender, identity and sexuality are boundless conditions; perpetually in motion and attune to each individual and each moment. Bailey-Gates knows such a world is real, and in looking at their photographs, we are able to catch a glimpse of it.  

 

Michael received his BA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York City in 2015. Michael has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, at the Hoxton Square Gallery in London and at the New York Film Festival among other insitutions and galleries. His work was published by several magazines, including The New York Times, British Journal of Photography,  The New Yorker,  Aperture, the Ravelin Magazine and Interview Magazine. 

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