Fraud Blocker

Photographer Garrie Maguire arrived in the Philippines expecting to stay for three days, he was detained for 499. 

Corrupt Philippine police arrested Garrie for being “an undesirable character” as he stood waiting to meet a man he had connected with on a dating site. The police tried to extort Garrie for $5000USD for meeting another man for sex, when that didn’t work they threatened to plant meth in his possession – Garrie couldn’t pay, he was charged, and his detainment began. 

In his normal life, Garrie is an active and curious photographer that loves to explore and meditate on his existence as a gay man and study concepts of gender and masculinity. When in captivity, his camera became a lifeline, a way for him to keep hold of some semblance of self and to document the reality of the horror he was living through. 

The resulting series from Garrie’s time documents the entire 499-day period and following reflections. It is displayed as a collage of moments, both large and small, wins and losses, fears and friends, resilience and regret, interspersed with handwritten notes by Garrie. The expansive series is much larger than its iteration on show at Queertography and Garrie is coalescing his images and notations into a book.  

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Garrie Maguire

What first brought you to photography?   

I’m visual. I liked to draw, but I’m not good at it. I liked ceramics but was disappointed when it blew up. Painting required starting with a blank sheet. I was much better at seeing interesting things and places. Photography seemed quick. 

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Garrie Maguire

Describe your photographic practice.  

It has many strands and many styles, but the centrality is a continued questioning of what is a man, who is allowed to be called masculine and who is presented as desirable. I have been expanding the definition. I’m enjoying the current gender debate which undermines the notions of masculinity and femininity. There will be a lot of debate and outrage between the traditionalists and the new queer. My work is not so much about gender performance but namely about desire. I’m attracted to scholar masculinities rather than warriors and I use photography to equalise them.  

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Garrie Maguire

Photography has become an essential tool for the queer community as a means of self-representation and exploration. Why do you think this is?   

The rise of photography as an accepted art form and the rise of gay acceptance are parallel. Photography is much more direct in presenting desire. Power and the ‘community standards’ are ok with drawings, paintings and sculptures of nakedness but a photograph is suddenly offensive. With photography’s assumed indexability, it becomes more difficult to deny our existence and explain it away.  

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Garrie Maguire

Your series Indefinite Immigration Detention documents your 499-day detainment in the Bicutan detention centre for being deemed an “undesirable character”. Staged and candid photos mixed with personal hand-written notes comprise this project which acts as a deeply personal and haunting diary of a reality that is unimaginable to many, especially here in Australia. Could you speak about your experience making this series, was it a cathartic act to compile these memories? 

Putting this project together and the book I’m working on was to relive it again. The experience was about being constantly kept under stress. I note that the curators of my project included many photographs of me emaciated.  

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Garrie Maguire

Who is a big inspiration of yours?    

The three first influences were Arnold Newman as I had bought a small book of his work and was stunned, the idea of capturing people in their environments. Henri Cartier Bresson who was the subject of the first photography exhibition I saw, at Queensland art gallery. He greatly influences my composition. The third was Robert Mapplethorpe, who allowed me to find beauty in the making of the print. He also gave me permission to document my homosexuality. 

View the Indefinite immigration detention exhibition here

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Image detail: Gary Ramage