Azmi Mert Erdem

Artistic Discipline: Visual Arts
Category: Brooklyn Arts Fund
Grant Year: 2020
Location: Bedford-Stuyvesant

The artist duo Mert and Michael aim to question and queer reified performances of identities for freer expressions and intersectional views of existence.Their work invites critical participation through self-reflection and community engagement. Likewise, Dermis aims to create further visibility to and for people who are pushed to the fringes of or who refuse to be part of normative status quos.

As lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are more accepted into mainstream culture and commerce, the community runs a risk of getting so comfortable it ignores the identities at the margins. This goes against the radical queer spirit that sparked off riots across the U.S. more than 50 years ago. To keep the movement sharp and incisive, society needs to continue the uncomfortable and beautiful work of complicating identities.

The photographic portrait series Dermis will address the strange experience of identification: to challenge participants and viewers with the contradictions and surprises living on and just below the skin.

The artists will photograph 20 participants at The 9 Studios in Bushwick, between February and April of 2020 and select three photographs from each participant’s shoot to be printed as a triptych.The photos will be exhibited for one month at public and private spaces across Brooklyn including queer venues. After the exhibition, the participants will be invited to take the pieces home.