Some Recent(ish) LGBTQ Art Books
June is Pride Month
Special events happen throughout the month leading to the 38th annual Pride Festival which runs from June 22 to 24. Toronto Public Library has all sorts LGBTQ programs as well.
As I was putting books together, it became clear that the last five years has produced a slew of multi-cultural genderqueer titles. So this is recent(ish) rather than recent because some of them were too good to miss.
This modestly sized volume is the catalogue of a massive show at the New Museum. A multi-generational group of more than forty artists' work with film, video, performance, painting, sculpture and photography to explore non-binary gender identities. Also I can't think of the subtitle without simultaneously thinking of Carole Pope and Pat Benatar.
Zanele Muholi's portraits definitely deserve a book of their own. She embarked on the "Faces and Phases" project in 2007, taking portraits of women from the townships in South Africa. In 2008, after homophobic attacks in the country lead to mass displacement, the project expanded to include women from different locations. All these women radiate strength.
From mail art to the rise of Chicano, gay, and feminist print media Axis Mundo presents the cutting edge of Los Angeles' Queer art scene from the sixties to the nineties.
The portraits in Every Breath We Drew are made in private spaces, often the subject's home or bedroom but with often large-format cameras. The photographs are private and intimate with every detail revealed but also document self-consciously constructed identities presenting quiet confidence in the face of intrusive technology.
Blacktino Queer Performance approaches the interrelations of blackness and Latinidad through theory and art. Nine performance scripts by established and emerging black and Latina/o queer playwrights are joined by interviews and critical essays written by leading scholars.
When queer art activist Nia King decided to focus on making art, she started a podcast called We Want the Airwaves to pick the brains of fellow queer and trans artists of colour. The resulting collection of sixteen unique interviews looks at their work, their lives, success, survival and everything that goes into "making it."
Lyle Ashton Harris is another one of those artists so ahead of the curve that the curve has barely begun to catch up. "Excessive Exposure" documents ten years of his large-format Polaroid portraits that strategically blur conventional gender roles, sexual identities and racial categories. Portraits include family and friends, art-world personalities, noted cultural figures, celebrities and politicians.
Queer British Art surveys the seismic shifts in gender and sexuality that took place in Britain between the 1860s and the 1960s. Ranging from the playful to the political, the explicit to the domestic, these works showcase gender experimentation among the Pre-Raphaelites; the new science of sexology's impact on portraiture; queer domesticities in Bloomsbury and relationships between artists and models.
A stunning, intimate, and wholly original visual story by two young artists, both transitioning. This show became a major feature of the 2014 Whitney Biennial.
In a Queer Time and Place deals with subjects ranging from the murder of transgender man Brandon Teena (and the media frenzy surrounding "Boys Don’t Cry") to the transgender gaze in indie films to the influence of lesbian drag king cultures in "straight" comedies such as Austin Powers.
Increased visibility for trans people is celebrated by liberal society, but also coincides with a period of heightened violence. Essays and interviews show how often trans people are offered doors -- entrances to visibility and recognition -- that are actually traps--conditional accommodations that assume dominant norms.
Transcendents: Spirit Mediums of Burma and Thailand presents a personal photographic perspective with an anthropological look at the genderfluid spirit mediums in Thailand and Burma. In the past, most Spirit Mediums were women, but over time, more men have felt called. Some live as women full time while others live as men and dress only for the Spirits. Both wear colourful, flowing garments, wear make-up, headdresses, and ornate jewelry.
Butch: Not Like the Other Girls originated as a public art project in transit shelters around Vancouver in 2013, with a simultaneous gallery show. The project caused an internet sensation, generating thousands of posts and shares on social media, blog posts as far away as Germany and Denmark, and interest for further exhibitions across Canada and the United States.
Last but certainly not least, the Queer photography extravaganza 10 x 10 will run from June 13 to August 5 at the Gladstone Hotel this year. Every year 10 queer photographers are selected to photograph 10 queer Canadians in the Arts. The new catalogue will be on order any day now, but the previous six years are available at fine libraries everywhere. Go.