All posts tagged: Portrait of Humanity

“This is their home”: Dustin Thierry on Europe’s Black queer diaspora

Born on the Caribbean island of Curaçao, a former Dutch colony, Dustin Thierry moved to the Netherlands on his own aged just 14. Opulence, his ongoing and most recognised project, is raw, intoxicating and quietly poignant: an ode to his young polysexual brother, who had dreamed of following Thierry to Europe before taking his own life in 2016. “His suicide inspired me to dive into a world that could have been his,” the artist told British Journal of Photography last year. “A tribute not only to him, but to all people of Afro-Caribbean descent who aren’t free to be who they are.” Approaching its members in earnest in 2018, Thierry secured intimate access to the enchanting world of European ballroom culture: rich underground celebrations of LGBTQI+ identity, where lavish displays of fashion and fervour meet a deep and mutual understanding of what it means to be ostracized from society. “This is their home,” says Thierry, who won Portrait of Humanity 2019 with a standout image from the series. “I was a guest at first, but …


Portrait of Humanity: You Have Nothing to Worry About

In 2017, Melissa Spitz was named TIME Instagram Photographer of the Year, for her deeply personal Instagram account, cataloguing her mother’s struggles with mental illness. Spitz employs the platform to open up a conversation about mental health. One of her captions begins: ‘The first time I thought my mom killed herself I came home to find our house in a mess…’. Her account comprises beautifully shot portraits, screenshots of personal conversations, and archive footage of her mum from Spitz’s childhood. The work is arresting in its honesty; “I’ve been embarrassed by my mum for my entire life,” says Spitz. “So it’s been very liberating to say ‘fuck it, this is my mum, this is my life’.” Through her Instagram account, Spitz has built the community and support system that she lacked growing up with a mentally unwell parent. “I think about when I was a teenager and my mum was really bad, and I spent my time locked in my room to hide away,” she explains. “Had I had a community, I wouldn’t have felt …


Portrait of Humanity: My Americans

“In Chinese, the name for the United States of America translates to mean ‘the beautiful country’,” explains An Rong Xu, who has been documenting Chinese Americans for the last seven years, as part of his ongoing series My Americans. “Chinese people have been migrating to America since the 1800s, and their history has been intertwined ever since.” Xu was drawn to photograph America’s Chinese population after realising the extent to which they have been historically overlooked. “No Chinese workers are shown in the photograph of the Golden Spike when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, although it was largely built by them,” he says. “They have been considered the perpetual foreigner. Regardless of how many generations and countless contributions they have made to American history, they will never be seen as American.” Xu’s photographs acknowledge and celebrate the enormous contribution the Chinese population has made to American society. The series is largely shot in New York City, where Xu resides. The images depict the city’s vibrant Chinatown, where traditional New Year celebrations involve Americanised floats, and …


BJP Staff