For his series Interwoven, Kyle Meyer (b. 1985; Ashland, Ohio) addresses Swaziland’s hyper-masculine culture by photographing men from its LGBTQ community. The artist creates unique head wraps from fabrics chosen by his models before photographing them wearing their chosen textile. He then hand-shreds each resulting photographic print and fabric from the wrap, weaving them together to create a three-dimensional work that both conceals and reveals the subject’s identity.
In 2009, Meyer was awarded a fellowship that allowed him to travel to Swaziland (now known as Eswatini) to document the HIV/AIDS crisis in the country, which has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. In spite of it being illegal and very dangerous to be gay in the country, Meyer lived there over the course of two years and has returned frequently ever since. He befriended many members of the LGBTQ+ community while living there, as well as handicraft workers, including candle makers and blanket and basket weavers. While documenting these artisans, the artist learned to weave baskets and rugs from them, which eventually became the foundation of his Interwoven project. Combining his background in photography with headdress-tying and weaving, Meyer creates the opportunity for gay Swazi men to express an aspect of themselves that must otherwise remain hidden. The screen-like texture of his resulting works provide anonymity to these men, granting them refuge in a safe, fortified space.
Works by Meyer are represented in the permanent collections of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Fondation Cartier, Paris, France; and Swaziland National Museum, Lobamba, Swaziland, among others. His Interwoven project premiered in 2018 at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York. His debut monograph, Interwoven, was co-published in 2020 by Radius Books/Yossi Milo. Meyer earned his MFA in 2016 from Parsons School of Design and lives and work in New York City.