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Deliberate magic for a
wounded culture

Deliberate magic for a
wounded culture

Photos: Kristina E Knipe

Interview: Daniel Flendt Dreesen

Soleil and Colin
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Artist Kristina E Knipe offers visions of queer rituals to heal us, enchant us, and perhaps transform the way we relate to the world and each other.

Climate change and other crises have taught us that the status quo is a luxury we cannot afford. To evolve and regenerate is becoming non-negotiable – an awkward truth for the sentimental and complacent side of us. But transformations are wondrous things. 

Kristina E Knipe’s 2022 photo series Talisman, which shows New Orleans friends luxuriating in the ruins of the old world, charts a path to personal and collective rediscovery. “In the world of Talisman, regenerative growth comes out of fertile decay. There is a struggle to find meaning within the detritus of capitalism, and a desire for magic and intimacy,” Knipe says.

Knipe’s way of working is slow and meticulous. She will wrap, drape, and spill objects across the bodies of her sitters as “protective magic”, because to Knipe, symbols and objects are conduits that evoke a call to the past – or hope for the future. An experience of ritual practice pulled from adornment at masquerades and parties.

“I am hopeful for new ways of relating to our physical world”

For Knipe, the word queer has the same meaning when applied to rituals as it does when applied to sexuality and gender: fluid, expansive, non-conforming. Queer rituals are a reinvention of rituals altogether, freed from specific religious purposes, and more akin to the complex metamorphoses found in nature.

“My experience of the world has always been messy, and the fragmented objects, bodies, draped fabric, and broken goblets create a web of meaning through the relationships. I am hopeful for new ways of relating to our physical world, and what I am hinting at in my images does exist extrinsically in the communities I photograph.”

Some of Knipe’s images portray people recovering from illness or injury, who seem more like entranced explorers than suffering patients. “It is important to me that a wide gamut of experience is represented in my work,” she says. “These can be very isolating experiences, and I am hopeful for the ways that we can care for one another and be in community.” 

“I think that my culture is out of balance and that in order to care for one another and ourselves we need to be more deliberate, she adds.

The attention to detail and significance ascribed to every material thing is evident in Knipe’s work, as if every shard of glass or leaf of grass could function as a talisman, if viewed in the right light. 

“I make pictures that feel like my interior landscape. Sometimes plant life is given to me by a friend. A flower from a friend’s garden for a picture means a lot to me; I incorporate these into my photos as a form of psychometry that transposes history, place and time.” 

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Whit

Erica’s lamp

Soleil with injury from Mardi Gras Day

Zachary and Antony
Annie before surgery

“The fragmented objects, bodies, draped fabric and broken goblets create a web of meaning”

Kristina E Knipe

Nike in Ostara costume at dawn
Antony and seven swans
Elysian spring

 


We’re able to share content like this because of people like you. Join others from around the world in supporting Imagine5’s mission towards a sustainable future. Become a member, or donate what you can. Find out more here.


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