Queerskins is a crowd-sourced photography project inspired by the interactive narrative and virtual reality experience, Queerskins: a love story (www.queerskins.com). In the VR experience, participants construct the semi-fictional character of Sebastian, a young gay physician from a rural Catholic Missouri family who dies of AIDS in 1990, by interacting with a box of his belongings, photographs and a diary. Commissioned by The Tribeca Film Festival, where the work premiered, we created an immersive interactive installation, a recreation of Sebastian’s childhood attic bedroom, transformed by imagination and memory. We asked visitors to consider their own stories of love and loss, and, as they went through the installation, to find an object that spoke to this. Tagger Yancey then photographed them in communion with the objects and invited them to share, in writing, the object’s personal significance. These are the photographs and stories which you will find in this book.
We did not anticipate how deeply and personally the act of choosing and object and being photographed would affect people. By creating a temporary shared, but solitary experience in which shame, the loss of love and acceptance, and transcendence intermingle and are made visible, Queerskins created a safe space for emotional contemplation. We are still trying to understand how this combination of the virtual and the real generated such an open and intense exchange with strangers. We are grateful and honored that our art has been a catalyst for this.