MACK Books, 2022. First edition. Embossed printed linen hardcover, 108 pp., color illustrated, 235 x 295 mm. Photographs and text by Jess T. Dugan. Design by Morgan Crowcroft-Brown.
Shortlisted for Photobook of the Year, Paris Photo-Aperture PhotoBook Awards 2022
In Look at me like you love me, Jess T. Dugan reflects on desire, intimacy, companionship, and the ways our identities are shaped by these experiences. In this highly personal collection of work, Dugan brings together self-portraits, portraits of individuals and couples, and still lifes, interwoven with diaristic writings reflecting on relationships, solitude, family, loss, healing, and the transformations that define a life. Dugan has long used photography to understand their own identity and to connect with others on a deeper level. Their process of working slowly and collaboratively discloses moments of heightened psychological intensity in images that transcend the specifics of a particular person or place, engaging with what it means to know oneself alongside and through others. Using medium-format cameras and natural lighting, Dugan employs traditional photographic practices to depict these contemporary subjects, resulting in images that both evoke and reimagine the conventional dynamics of art-historical portraiture. Brought together here, these photographs function as an extended, oblique self-portrait as much as a catalogue of friends and loved ones. Through a diffuse but studied sequence of image and text, Look at me like you love me brings our attention to one of the most powerful and complex forms of intimacy – that of seeing and being seen.
‘The romantic ephemerality suggested in these sensually plainspoken images situates them in a grand painterly and poetic tradition … [Dugan’s] frank and fluid approach to representing queer affection makes space for a more complex and beautiful human experience, at odds with the erasures and reductions of our banal binaristic culture.’ Artforum
‘Dugan cuts their portraits down to the bare essentials, forgoing props, sets, and other frills for the sake of foregrounding their subject’s humanity ... A scholar and a layperson could look at a Dugan portrait and come away with the same experience: one of profound intimacy, of seeing someone being seen.’ Artnet
‘Jess T. Dugan’s intimate project is built on trust and collaboration ... reflecting on what it means to live authentically to oneself in spite of incredible challenges.’ It’s Nice That