Queerness in Photography

Sep 17, 2022 – Jan 21, 2023
Portrait eines Mannes mit rotem Lippenstift und pinken Fingernägeln
Photobooth. Man in make-up wearing a woman’s ring, United States, ca. 1920, gelatin silver print with colour retouching. Collection Sébastien Lifshitz
C/O Berlin will present three complementary exhibitions on the representation of identity, gender, and sexual orientation in photography. Unlike other media, photography does not only depict sexual orientation and identity; it also makes a considerable contribution to determining their sociopolitical status. Since its invention in 1839, the medium of photography has also served to visually categorize people. The three exhibitions celebrate the complex visual panorama of queer photography.

Under Cover . A Secret History of Cross-Dressing presents the collection of the French director and screenwriter Sébastien Lifshitz. Compiled over several decades, the collection gives insight into the tradition of cross-dressing between 1880 and the end of the twentieth century. The exhibition contextualizes subversive visual play with gender roles as a historical phenomenon. The exhibition is produced by The Recontres d‘Arles.

Cindy Sherman, probably the most famous master of disguises in the art world, offers a playful interpretation of gender identities and gender fluidity in Cindy Sherman . Performance and Casa Susanna. What happens when a woman artist presents herself in the role of a homosexual drag queen? Using archive material from the 1960s and 1970s from her own collection as well as that of the Lifschitz Collection, Sherman makes reference to collective gender issues in her new works. 

In 1992 the actress Tilda Swinton played the gender nonconforming leading role in the award-winning film Orlando, which was based on the novel by Virginia Woolf. Using the book and film as a model, she has curated a show for C/O Berlin that features eleven contemporary photographers. A selection of works by Zackary Drucker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Jamal Nxedlana, Elle Pérez, Walter Pfeiffer, Sally Potter, Viviane Sassen, Collier Schorr, Mickalene Thomas, and Carmen Winant present a current reading of queerness and gender fluidity. The exhibition is produced by Aperture.

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