Seattle – Lecture and book signing with Sophia Wallace and Kelli Connell

Press release

Chastity by Sophia Wallace“LECTURE & BOOK SIGNING: KELLI CONNELL & SOPHIA WALLACE

Friday, April 13, 6:30pm, Tickets: $10, $8 Members

Photo Center NW, 900 12th Avenue, Seattle, 98122

Sophia Wallace explores the gendering of aesthetics and how the concept of beauty is tied to sexual objectification. Wallace photographed male subjects using the unspoken rules that dictate the way women are conventionally posed in photographs and paintings. Shorter than most of her models, she used a ladder to shoot them from above while directing them to look at her only with soft expressions. Mostly she asked them to look away – to be looked at. She uncovered aspects of their masculinity which might otherwise be downplayed for fear of appearing effeminate. As viewers, can we look at aestheticized vulnerability without inserting a gendered, sexual agenda onto it? Do beautiful men fall victim to the virgin/whore dichotomy or does their masculinity protect them from this reduction? Wallace is a Seattle artist based in Brooklyn, NY.

Kelli Connell’s images appear to document a relationship between two women. Their idiom looks familiar: a young couple caught up in everyday moments of pleasure and reflection. The first flicker of unease comes as soon as the viewer registers the similarity of the two subjects, who seem to be twins–and incestuous twins at that. In fact, Connell has photographed the same model portraying both of the women and then digitally combined the two images so seamlessly that not a trace remains of their construction. Connell has been at the forefront of artists using digital technologies for the past decade, but her art is not about Photoshop, her photographs extend far beyond their duplicity into larger and more complex issues of identity and visual rhetoric. Connell is a Chicago based artist.

This lecture is in partnership with Decode Books.”
Illustration above: Untitled (Chastity) by Sophia Wallace

[Works by Sophia Wallace and Kelli Connell's are presented at the The Photo Center NW's exhibition Author and Subject: Contemporary Queer Photography in Seattle USA. The exhibition runs through May 27, 2012.]

The Book
Kelli Connell – Double Life
Essay by Susan Bright
Interview by Dawoud Bey
12.25 x 9.5 inches
36 four-color plates
80 pages, hardcover
Published by Decode Books
ISBN 978-0-9793373-9-0

Bubblebath by Kelli Connell

Bubblebath by Kelli Connell

Purity by Sophia Wallace

Sophia Wallace, Untitled (Purity), 2010, chromogenic-print, 18″ x 24″, edition of 6

Immaculate by Sophia Wallace

Untitled (Immaculate) by Sophia Wallace

Contemporary Queer Photography

Press release

Karina Cass Cedar Rapids, IA by Molly Landreth

Karina Cass Cedar Rapids, IA by Molly Landreth

EXHIBITION i Seattle, USA

Author and Subject: Contemporary Queer Photography
Artists: Adrain Chesser, Kelli Connell, Katie Koti, Molly Landreth, Steven Miller, Rafael Soldi, Chad States, Lorenzo Triburgo, Amelia Tovey, Sophia Wallace
Exhibition Dates: April 6th-May 27th 2012
Artists’ Reception: April 12th, 6-8pm
After Party: April 12th, 8:30pm at The Wild Rose
Gallery Hours: Monday – Thursday 11 am – 10 pm, Friday – Sunday 12 pm – 8 pm
Location: Photo Center NW, 900 12th Avenue, Seattle, 98122, USA
Contact for more info: Erin Spencer at espencer@pcnw.org, phone: 206.720.7222, ext 10

EVENTS
Artists’ Reception:
April 12th, 6-8pm, performances by Tenderfoot and Waxie Moon. Also present, Queer Youth Space and #1 Must Have queer zine
After Party: April 12th, 8:30pm at The Wild Rose

Lectures:
Lecture: April 13th, 6:30 pm, Kelli Connell & Sophia Wallace
Lecture: May 4th, 6:30 pm, Steven Miller & Adrain Chesser
Lecture Tickets: $10, $8 Members

Workshop:
Identities: Queer Youth and The Community
Instructor: Molly Landreth
Sundays, April 15, 22 and 29 // 12-3 PM
FREE

Class: Gender and Sexuality in American Portraiture
Instructor: Molly Landreth
Wednesdays 6-9 April 4-June 6
$675

Bubblebath by Kelli Connell

Bubblebath by Kelli Connell

The Photo Center NW is pleased to announce Author and Subject: Contemporary Queer Photography. This exhibition focuses on ten contemporary queer photographers who explore ideas of identity, gender, courage, relationships, sexuality and the human form. Scheduled to run concurrently with the Tacoma Art Museum’s HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, this exhibition sheds light on a younger generation of queer artists working in the photographic medium locally and around the country. In the spirit of celebration around queer art, the Photo Center is launching this exhibition with an exciting opening reception that will feature music, performance, youth, art and community! The opening reception willl include a fearless live performance by boylesque sensation Waxie Moon, challenging notions of gender, sexuality and performance art. With artists flying in from around the country, it will also present local folk band Tenderfoot, representatives from Queer Youth Space and A. Slaven and Adrien Leavitt, founders and DJ’s of LICK! and creators of the new queer zine, #1 Must Have, which will be available and accompanied by an installation of photos in the upstairs gallery.

Chicago artist Kelli Connell’s images appear to document a relationship between two women who seem to be twins– and incestuous twins at that. In fact, Connell has photographed the same model portraying both of the women and then digitally combined the two images so seamlessly that not a trace remains of their construction. Seattle-based Molly Landreth offers a more extensive approach to queer portraiture with her project, Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America, while Chad States taps into the mysticism and secrecy that still exists and surrounds queer culture. He documents hidden points of encounter in public spaces where homosexual men meet to engage in sexual interactions. Katie Koti challenges rigid dichotomies of identity and exposes the struggle an individual can go through inside of their own skin by engaging her subjects with an ambiguous landscape. Through their trickster alter egos, Beaster and Bear, Chesser and Miller create complex narratives that explore the politics of gay culture, spirituality, and man’s relationship to nature. Peruvian artist, Rafael Soldi, approaches homosexuality from a cultural perspective; his images represent his struggle to surface from darkness and uses his relationship with a pervious partner as an anchor for coming to terms with and defining his sexuality while transitioning from one country to another. Lorenzo Triburgo’s Transportraits are a series of portraits focused on transgendered men while Sophia Wallace explores the gendering of aesthetics and how the concept of beauty is tied to sexual objectification.”

Tracks by Katie Koti

Tracks by Katie Koti

Untitled (Chastity) by Sophia Wallace

Untitled (Chastity) by Sophia Wallace

Seattle: Author and Subject – Contemporary Queer Photography

Press Release by Molly Landreth

AUTHOR AND SUBJECT: CONTEMPORARY QUEER PHOTOGRAPHY AT PCNW
APRIL 6 – MAY 27, 2012
OPENING: April 12 6-9pm Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle WA, USA

“The Photo Center NW is pleased to announce Author and Subject: Contemporary Queer Photography. This exhibition focuses on ten contemporary queer photographers who explore ideas of identity, gender, courage, relationships, sexuality and the human form. Also scheduled to run concurrently with HIDE/SEEK, this exhibition sheds light on a younger generation of queer artists working in the photographic medium locally and around the country. The opening reception willl include a fearless live performance by boylesque sensation Waxie Moon, local folk band Tenderfoot, representatives from Queer Youth Space and A. Slaven and Adrien Leavitt, founders and DJ’s of LICK! and creators of the new queer zine, #1 Must Have, which will be available and accompanied by an installation of photos in the upstairs gallery.”

The Queer Photographers
Author and Subject – Contemporary Queer Photography presents photographs by artists: Adrain Chesser, Kelli Connell, Katie Koti, Molly Landreth, Steven Miller, Rafael Soldi, Chad States, Lorenzo Triburgo, Amelia Tovey, Sophia Wallace.

Related Link
EMBODIMENT a photographic journey and a web-based archive by Molly Landreth. The Project seeks to understand what it means to be queer in America today.
The official website of Hide/Seek

Lesbian Art – a Creative Media and a Political Tool

Text: Birthe Havmoeller, June 30, 2009

In the 1960’ies more or less all lesbian artists were in the closet. There were no lesbian artists – neither in USA nor in Europe – who got the same attention by the medias as American gay artist Andy Warhol or the british artist couple Gilbert & George. The lesbian artists were invisible and there was no visible representation of a lesbian lifestyle either. There existed almost no lesbian erotica made by lesbians before the beginning of 1970’ies, when the first progressive lesbian activists started publishing their own porn mags. The visual representation of lesbian sex was a taboo until the gay and lesbian movement started a general debate about homosexuality.

With start the women’s liberation movement a new source of motivation/ inspiration was born and there was a big creative boom among the female artists/activists: Now it was OK for women to make the images that the society (and their parents) didn’t like…! Women started exploring the creative potential of their body and sexuality and visual art became a media of self-empowerment. At the end of the 1970’ies the first lesbian art shows opened.

The Lesbian Body as a Sexual Object
In the 1970-80’ies the porn industry flowered. The primary target group of the porn industry was hetero sexual males. The erotic depictions of lesbians were not made by women. The “lesbian” images were designed by men for a male audience. I assume that the authors of these images had the idea that when a man turns hot on a photo of one nude woman he will turn twice as hot on an image with two nude women(!)

The lesbian feminists soon pointed to the fact that the commercial “lesbian” porn images were staged. The models were not lesbian as they neither looked nor acted like lesbians. The visual lie, that the models on those photos were “lesbians” sent must have made lots of lesbians feel a big emotional vacuum. They had accepted their own homosexuality, but lived in a world where they were invisible as sexual beings. Lesbian artists soon began to make their own images. They made nudes of “live sex” with real lesbian couples and distributed them to a lesbian audience. The late photographer and activist Tee. A. Corinne (USA) was one of the famous pioneers of lesbian nude photography.

The representation and visibility of the lesbian body as a sexual object for women were the major themes among lesbian artists in the 1970-80’ies. The 1970’ies was also a period, where women artist experimented a lot with their own body and started making performances.

Academics from the women’s studies and a new generation of curators started to focus on women as role models, and it resulted in a number of art exhibitions in the 1980’ies and 1990’ies with vintage prints by lesbian and bisexual photographers among these photographers are Alice Austen (USA, 1866-1952), Mary Willumsen (DK, 1884-1961), Berenice Abbott (USA, 1889-1991),  Claude Cahun (FR, 1894-1954) and Germaine Krull (DE, 1897-1985).

The Arts Turned Queer

In the 1990’ies queer art became mainstream. The queer theory discusses gender, body and identity. It disassociates it self from the heterosexual society’s norms and definitions of gender and the gender roles. Inspired by Judith Butler’s Queer theory artists started making ‘queer art’. GLBT photographers Del La Grace Volcano (UK) and Catherine Opie (USA) became known for their queer images of drag kings. The androgyne and ambiguous body was explored by Rebecca Swan (New Zealand) and Linn Underhill (USA) made the photo series “Who’s Zoomin’ Who?”, a parody of the porn pin-up and dykes on bikes, to name but a few examples.

The New Trends of Out And Proud Lesbian Art in the 21st Century

The new gay rights (i.e. partnership, the right having a child by insemination, etc.) has made lesbian artist look at the female body and the daily life of lesbian couples in a new way – focussing on the private lives of lesbians. Kelli Connell (USA) makes staged images of a virtual lesbian couple. Artist Christa Holka (GB) snaps photos of her friends and acquaintances at parties and pride events and uploads the images to Flickr.com. Tammy Rae Carland (USA) makes still lives of lesbian double beds. Photographer Verena Jaekel (DE) exhibition “Neue Familienportraits” shows portraits of gay families and photographer Annie Leibovitz (USA) has started exhibiting her private photos from her long relationship with late American academic Susan Sontag.

Visual Art as a Means of Gay Empowerment

In Sweden a survey from 1999 shows that 24% of all lesbians and as many as 36% of all gay men have experienced hate crimes. In Finland 60% of all homosexuals have experienced hate crimes. It the same in Great Britain. Life has improved a lot for gay people over the last 30 years, but the political struggle is not over yet. The fact that there still exist a serious intollerance has made lesbian activist, photographer and TV host Elisabeth Ohlson-Wallin (SE) start a debate about these crimes alongside her exhibition “In hate we trust” (2007). ‘In Hate we trust’ is a show, which consisted of big colour photos with tableaux, by which she illustrates a number the stories of hate crimes, which were almost invisible in mainstream medias. American queer performance artist Mary Coble has also done a number of performances, in which she has questioned hate crimes and other social issues injustices.

In order to explore uncovered ground the lesbian artists often find themselves as visual spokespersons of points of views, which are in opposition to mainstream. They question the complacency, phobias, prejudices and taboos of the mainstream culture. Visual art is a media, which touches our emotions and it is a very efficient tool to make people realize what their point of view is in a social debate and thus it is a powerful tool in the hands of artist/ social provocateurs. Political art still plays a major role in relation to opening our eyes for new thoughts, visions and alternative livestyles. Many lesbian artists work to increase awareness about the core values of the gay communities and thus raise the awareness of the society in general. Their struggle to visualize our lives, emotions, sexuality and visions are yet to be fully appreciated by the gay communities, but I am happy that more and more queer art shows are organized alongside other gay events, so it is easier to get a first hand experience of their works of art.