On the Domestic Front: Scenes of Everyday Queer Life

Exhibition dates: August 14 – October 25, 2015
Venue: Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York
Public Opening: August 14, 2015, 6 – 8 pm

On the Domestic Front: Scenes of Everyday Queer Life features some 70 works drawn mostly from the Leslie-Lohman Museum collection and answers the age-old question, “What do LGBT people do when they’re not having sex?” The artworks range widely in subject matter, medium, and style, cover the period from early 20th century to the present, and offer a suggestive panorama of LGBTQ lives in the United States that – until now – has been neglected by museums, galleries, and historians. Exhibition dates are August 14 to October 25, 2015 with an opening reception from 6 to 8 pm the evening of August 14.

The exhibition’s theme is timely in a decade that has seen the unprecedented mushrooming of same-sex marriage, child-rearing, and domesticity increase in acceptance both legally and socially. The thrust of queer politics has shifted from asserting our right to be different and erotic toward demanding the right to do what everyone else does. “Domestic front,” is a military metaphor that stresses the essential contribution that daily living must continue even in wartime, as with the soldiers during war on the “battle front.” Living queer lives has long been an active battle front in America’s ongoing culture wars. Now, the queer fight has shifted from our right to be different toward the right to be “normal” and unremarkable. Queer genre imagery is a weapon in our battle to secure what we might call the radicality of the ordinary.

On the Domestic Front will contribute to a long-running socio-political debate within the LGBTQ world: are we, apart from our sexuality, “just like everyone else,” or alternatively, do we have a distinct sensibility or style (or many of them)? Homemaking is an act of everyday social performance, a way of realizing and expressing a sense of self and a sense of belonging. Home life, in practice, can often be a source of pain, yet the idea of home always promises more – love, friendship, comfort, pleasure, and the possibility of reinventing them all. The exhibition is divided into the following four thematic sections: home, work, play, and fantasy.

Home presents domestic interiors and everyday life: individuals, couples, and families in living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms; as well as in “homes away from home”, such as hotels, motels, RVs, and hospitals. A group of works by Saul Bolasni, (theatre and costume designer, illustrator, and painter) records the comfortable post-war gay men lifestyle of many urban dwellers. Numerous works on display attest to the wide influences of Paul Cadmus and Jared French (PaJaMa), especially in intimate domestic scenes. Fayette Hauser’s photographs of the Cockettes, the path breaking San Francisco performance troupe founded in 1969, help illustrate a communal household where they made their own clothing from thrift-store finds, developing a raucous, glittery form of “hippie drag.”

Work focuses on the feminist goals of breaking down occupational gender stereotypes and increasing access to employment and independence. It also documents the lesbian feminist movement of the 1970s through the vision of photographer Joan E. Biren, who exhibited her work as JEB. A cofounder of lesbian feminist collective The Furies, JEB captured the energy of the emerging institutions of the movement, from women-centered music festivals to photo collectives and feminist auto repair shops. Cathy Cade living in an apartment in Berkeley during the 70s describes her household as being staged with meaningful objects from each member of her home: wrenches and other tools for her lover Kate, an auto mechanic; a toy fire truck for Kate’s son, Guthrie; female nudes and clay pots sculpted by their friend, Pat; and cameras for Cade.

Play includes social and recreational activities and spaces from gyms and swimming pools to vacation homes, bars, clubs, and theatres. In this section, a photograph by Del LaGrace Volcano, Sunset Strip Soho, Anastasia and Allegra, London, playfully portrays a couple’s night out at a London strip club.

Fantasy depicts social scenes that are wished for in the mind rather than observed in the body. We see this imagined through contemporary artist Caleb Cole’s photograph, Refinement and Elegance, with its portrayal of Cole who takes on the persona of what was once called a “piss-elegant queen” with a passion for collecting and decorating.

Although the exhibition’s images examine aspects of our lives that are “just like everyone else’s,” three longrunning debates hover over them: Do we perform these activities in distinctive “queer” style(s)? Do we represent them artistically in a distinctive way? And, do we look at such images differently? After all, we create domesticity, and illustrate it, out of a lifetime of experiences and emotions that are inevitably different from those of straights, and queer spectators view any narrative scene through the multiple lenses of identity and history. The exhibition’s diverse works demonstrate the uniqueness as well as the universality of everyday queer life. It is a unique opportunity to see works from the Museum’s collection (and some strategic loans) that in some cases, never been exhibited.

On the Domestic Front: Scenes from Everyday Queer Life opens to the public on August 14 and runs through October 25, 2015. There will be an exhibition catalog available with exhibition images and subject essays by James Saslow, Stephen Vider, and Cookie Woolner. Docent tours will be offered during the run of the exhibition with a full schedule to be posted on the Museum’s website. (LeslieLohman.org)

Related Link

Picturing a Lesbian Feminist Household: Cathy Cade Interviewed by Stephen Vider, 2015.

New York: After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality

Press Release by Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art and Fresh Fruit Festival

Leslie-Lohman Museum presents an exhibition of queer feminist artists exploring the body as site of resistance, envisioning a positive queer future.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality

Curated by Alexis Heller
Exhibition Dates: June 5 – July 27, 2014
Opening Reception: June 5, 6 – 8 pm
at Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality opens at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art on June 5 and runs through July 27, 2014. Presented as part of the 12th annual All Out Arts Fresh Fruit Festival, the exhibition explores queer feminist artists’ responses to dominant notions about the body from the 1970s to present day. Reflecting the ever-growing diversity of feminist art, this exhibition provides a cross-cultural examination of how artists represent the body to challenge past and present forms of oppression and to envision a queer future.

After Our Bodies Meet: From Resistance to Potentiality, curated by Alexis Heller, traces the efforts of contemporary queer artists within the legacy of early feminist art. Bridging these historic and contemporary endeavors not only honors the pioneers of gender-conscious art but also highlights the evolution of feminist thought within artistic representations of queer bodies, including some that question the gender binary on which feminism was first conceived.

The works of Tee Corinne and Cathy Cade sought to document and empower the burgeoning lesbian feminist community, emphasizing the female body’s capacity for love, agency and pleasure outside of the heterosexual imagination. Today, South African artist and “visual activist” Zanele Muholi recognizes this same need to preserve marginalized histories, bringing attention to underrepresented populations of black lesbian and transgender individuals, as well as the targeted violence that threatens their existence. For her ongoing series Faces and Phases, Muholi’s black-and-white photographic portraits archive the diversity and resilience of her black queer community in South Africa and abroad, while for Isilumo siyaluma (2006-2011), Muholi generates a series of kaleidoscopic digital collages of menstrual blood stains to memorialize the rape and murder of black lesbians in South Africa.

Heather Cassils’ dynamic performance, Becoming An Image (2012), also evokes the brutalization of queer bodies as the artist’s mixed martial arts blows are imprinted onto a 1,500-pound block of clay. Staged in complete darkness, Cassils’ strenuous movements are only made visible by flash photography, capturing fleeting moments of the action, which, like the artist’s experience as a transgender man, is in a continuous process of change and becoming.

Sophia Wallace’s ongoing mixed media project CLITERACY, exposes the irony of society’s obsession with and ignorance of female sexuality. CLITERACY, 100 Natural Laws (2012) includes a monumental wall of texts which challenge phallocentric biases in science, law, philosophy, politics and the art world. Wallace’s focus on the clitoris and female pleasure serves to question and counteract the history of misinformation regarding women’s bodies and the concomitant oppression therein.

Inspired by Indian comic books, Hindu mythology and American science fiction Chitra Ganesh’s digital collages also draw from disparate materials and cultural sources to offer alternate narratives of female sexuality and power. Ganesh’s surrealistic and hybridized female forms collide beauty and abjection, commemorating marginalized and excluded figures from art, history and literature. In Ganesh’s work, the body serves as a site of transgression and revision, tearing apart stereotypes and histories only to reassemble them into a radical vision of corporeality, citizenship and desire.

This exhibition demonstrates how feminist artists have repositioned the political potential of activism into art, allowing critiques of the past to provide space for imagining new queer possibilities. Featuring work from Laura Aguilar, Cathy Cade, Heather Cassils, Tee A. Corinne, Zanele Muholi,Chitra Ganesh, Allyson Mitchell, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Sophia Wallace, and Chris E. Vargas, these artists subvert the mythologies and ideals surrounding lesbian and transgender bodies and foreground queer bodies obscured by invisibility.

There will be an Opening Reception on June 5th from 6 to 8 pm, as well as various events throughout the exhibition that explore these important issues and themes. Visit freshfruitfestival.com for a full schedule of events for All Out Arts Fresh Fruit Festival which will be held from July 7 to 20, 2014.

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians – Artist & Curator Panel Discussion

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art has launched a videostream at Vimeo and I would like to recommend their videos documenting a panel debate held alongside the museum’s inaugural show in 2011:

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians – Artist & Curator Panel Discussion (part 1) and part 2 of the panel debate.

These two videos present excerpts from the Artist & Curator Panel Discussion for the Lesbians Seeing Lesbians: Building Community in Early Feminist Photography exhibition at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, September 14 – October 22, 2011. Curators Jonathan David Katz and Ilana Eliot talk with artists Cathy Cade and JEB (Joan E. Birnen).

Related Links

Press release: New York: Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

New York: Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Press release from The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Building Community in Early Feminist Photography

Exhibition Ends October 22, 2011 at the Leslie-Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster Street, NYC, USA

Self-portrait by Tee Corrine, 1980

Tee Corrine, Self-portrait, Gelatin silver print, 1980. Press photo courtesy of Leslie-Lohman Gallery.

In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s brought a feminist revolution with lesbians, not always acceptably, to the forefront. In pursuit of personal and political liberation, lesbians photographed each other within an emerging lesbian feminist community, asserting their right to self-representation within a context of straight men, gay men and straight women. They gave widespread visibility to a new social ideal, born of that defining lesbian feminist notion asking, “Since women are no longer defined as accessories to men, what can, and should, a feminist society be?”

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians: building community in early feminist photography focuses on three of the most prominent photographers of this early generation: Tee A. Corrine (1943-2006: St. Petersburg, Florida), JEB (Joan E. Biren, b.1944: Washington D.C.), and Cathy Cade (b.1942: Honolulu, Hawaii). In addition, this exhibition pays tribute to these pioneering women by showing work of contemporary lesbian photographers including Catherine Opie and Cass Bird that engages and reworks their founding vision in contemporary lesbian life. This exhibition also includes key documents of the lesbian feminist and lesbian separatist movements.

Related Links

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
Read more about Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Lesbian Art Herstory: Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Press release from Leslie/Lohman Gallery

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

Building Community in Early Feminist Photography

Exhibition Dates: September 14 to October 22, 2011
Opening Reception: September 13; 6 – 8 PM
at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster St., New York, NY, USA
Panel Discussion: September 15, 6-8 PM at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery featuring JEB and Cathy Cade, moderated by the exhibition curators Ilana Eloit, Julia Haas and Jonathan David Katz.

[August 2011 – New York, NY] In the wake of the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s brought a feminist revolution with lesbians, not always acceptably, to the forefront. In pursuit of personal and political liberation, lesbians photographed each other within an emerging lesbian feminist community, asserting their right to self-representation within a context of straight men, gay men and straight women.

Lesbians Seeing Lesbians

focuses on three of the most prominent photographers of this early generation: Tee A. Corrine (1943-2006: St. Petersburg, Florida), JEB (Joan E. Biren, b.1944: Washington D.C.), and Cathy Cade (b.1942: Honolulu, Hawaii). In addition, this exhibition pays tribute to these pioneering women by showing work of contemporary lesbian photographers Cass Bird, Angela Jimenez, Zanele Muholi and Catherine Opie, that engages and reworks their founding vision in contemporary lesbian life. This exhibition also includes key documents of the lesbian feminist and lesbian separatist movements from the Lesbian Herstory Archives.

Resisting the traditional heterosexist objectification of the female body, early lesbian photographers such as Tee Corrine, JEB and Cathy Cade reworked the representation of women in a new key, one that stressed not only the erotic allure of the female form, but its capacity to build, to nurture, and, not least, to resist. They gave widespread visibility to a new social ideal, born of that defining lesbian feminist notion that asked,

“Since women are no longer defined as accessories to men, what can, and should, a feminist society be?”

Panel Discussion September 15, 2011

This exhibition runs from September 14 through October 22, 2011 at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery, 26 Wooster Street, New York, NY. There will be an Opening Reception held on September 13 from 6 -8 pm in the gallery. On September 15, a panel discussion will be held from 6-8 PM at the Leslie/Lohman Gallery featuring JEB and Cathy Cade, moderated by the exhibition curators Ilana Eloit, Julia Haas and Jonathan David Katz.

About the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation

For more than 20 years, the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation’s (LLGAF) mission has been to preserve, exhibit and foster the creation of art that is created by LGBTQ artists or which speaks directly to gay and lesbian sensibilities, including erotic, political, romantic, and social imagery that resonates of queer experience. As we look to the future, our plan is to continue this mission and expand our programs and outreach to the community with the establishment of the Leslie/Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.

Established as a non-profit organization in 1990, LLGAF has a permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects spanning more than three centuries of queer art. Our programs include regularly scheduled exhibitions, video events, workshop presentation of plays, artists’ and curator’s talks, panel discussions, THE ARCHIVE – a quarterly newsletter focusing on LGBTQ art and artists, a membership program, a research library and an archive of the permanent collection. LLGAF is the premier resource for anyone interested in the rich legacy of the LGBTQ community and its influence on and confrontation with the mainstream art world. There is no other organization in the world like us.

Related Links

Previous posts at Feminine Moments:

About Zanele Muholi: Inkanyiso by Queer Photographer Zanele Muholi, Zanele Muholi Show in Amsterdam 2010, Zanele Muholi on Swedish National TV, Zanele Muholi A Visual Artist and Activist and African Artist Creates New Strategies For Survival In Australia

About Angela Jimenez: Angela Jimenez Photography and Book: WELCOME HOME: Building the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival by Angela Jimenez

About Cass Bird: Artist talk: Queer Photographer Cass Bird

About Catherine Opie: Lesbian Art Herstory: Catherine Opie And Her Retrospective At the Guggenheim and Catherine Opie on New Topographics

About Tee A. Corrine: Remembering Lesbian Photographer Tee Corrine