Kris Sanford

Through the Lens of Desire



Belonging to a group and knowing why you are one way or another: the creation of one’s own identity is a universal need. Kris Sanford says that after rooting in her family past she found no couples to reflect her own intimate relationships. And then she began to play and dream a past that matched her identity. She went back to vernacular photographs taken between 1920 and 1950 to imagine and project her own desires in those moments from the remote past. Through a delicate selection of strategically chosen pictures that show subtle moments of intimacy, Sanford offers us a suggestive contemporary re-reading of them. She carefully reframes each image, paying exceptional attention to gestures, to points of contact, and deliberately excluding the subjects’ faces in order to transform them into characters from fiction who suggest imaginary stories of same sex couples. She creates close queer vignettes that are all,like desire itself, imbued with an atmosphere of play and fun, whilst she lets us know that we shouldn’t put too much faith in photographs, as those she offers can be prey to a myriad of readings.


Born in Michigan in 1974. Studied photography at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and at Arizona State University. In 2010 Kris received a scholarship from Phoenix Art Museum and in 2015 was a finalist in the LensCulture Exposure Awards. Her photos have been published in Fraction Magazine and Light Leaked and she is represented by the Catherine Couturier gallery in Houston, Texas and Tilt Gallery in Arizona. She is currently assistant professor at Central Michigan University.


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