In 1995, photographer Catherine Opie created a deck of playing cards with portraits of lesbian women, mostly her friends, affectionately titled the Dyke Deck. The deck is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and each suit represents a different lesbian stereotype — couples, jocks, femmes, and butches — but it serves as an iconic documentation of queer life in the '90s.
Fast-forward to 2017, Brooklyn-based artist Naima Green stumbled upon the Dyke Deck at the New York Public Library and was struck with an idea: What would it look like to document and photograph the queer women in her life? So, she put out an open call on her Instagram story, asking to photograph and interview queer womxn, trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people. The result is a 54-card deck of portraits, called Pur·suit, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter.
With Pur·suit, Green wants to celebrate the full spectrum of gender expression and identity in today's world. Rather than categorize the subjects, Green created a survey that allowed participants to self-identify with elements, seasons, numbers, and card suits. "The whole reason I'm making work is to break down these categories, and feel like there is fluidity across the deck, and there are no binaries," she says.
But one common thread that repeatedly came up throughout the survey process was visibility. "Being visible is necessary, and it’s so hard to be visible, because you never know if you're going to be hurt because of your queerness," Green recalls one subject telling her. "If your queerness is legible, it’s really precarious." And when there are headlines in the news about hate crimes targeting prominent queer people, this is top of mind for many individuals. "To be queer, and to constantly feel like we have to be resilient, or that we can’t let any of this news get to you — it’s impossible for that to be true," Green says. "It’s clearly hard."