Notes on “In A Different Light”

In A Different Light was a 1995 exhibition of art exploring Queer Identity curated by Lawrence Rinder & Nayland Blake. The following are notes taken from the accompanying book –

“less to do with representing Gay lives then with conveying…views of the world” N.Blake (p.2)

They note that many gay artists are either completely ignored, their sexuality glossed over or else when their work is shown is either subtly steered away from any references to homoerotic influences or else that style of work is left out altogether. Gay artists seem to remain “in the closet” either by their own or others hands. And lesbian artists are dealt a double blow by being ignored due to their sexuality as well as their gender.

There is no such thing as a gay aesthetic – but what brings the ‘theme’ together is representations of common experiences, values and concerns.

Queer has come to represent this broadening umbrella of sexualities and identities; partly as it is more encompassing rather than pigeon-holing but also because of it’s inherent politicism (Queer movement took back the meaning to stop it from being used to bash us with) (p.7)

Is an artists sexuality relevant when reading their work? Does that not just further pigeon-hole them and stop the work being read in a more encompassing way? Rather in the way that Cindy Sherman refuses to be labelled a feminist artist for fear that this would just force her work to be read within a specific set of rules and contexts.

“Queer people are the only minority whose culture is not transmitted within the family”  N.Blake (p.12) Re-code, rewrite, hijack, trespass & poach heterosexual semiotics to conform to our specific meanings

AIDS gave rise to angry activistic artworks

Punk aesthetic – angry and sexually charged as a reaction to the indifference of the straight society and futility of safe sex

Queer sex is self-sufficient – straight sex is functional “points up the constructed, regulated nature of straight sex” Blake (p.31)

“others remained closeted out of fear that their work would not be taken seriously” H. Hammond (p.45)

“problematics of self-ghettoisation “ Hammond (p.47)

“The impact of visual culture…on the formation of identity” A, Scholder (p.177) We have struggled to find relevant cultural references in the media up until now so we were forced to create our own

“Dennis Cooper’s characters..constantly displaced” Scholder (p.177)

“This position is informed by the knowledge of sex as power, and is aware of the subversive possibilities of that power.” “Subversive Gaze” Scholder (p.178)

“significant difference between visibility and social change” “lesbian chic” Scholder (p.181)

Culled from In a Different Light: Visual Culture, Sexual Identity, Queer Practice, Nayland Blake, Lawrence Rinder (City Lights Books, San Francisco 1995)

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