Queer Art and Culture on Display. Reflections on Exhibition History, its Impact and Problems
This talk will look at the display of queer art and culture within an exhibition context, its history, impact and problems. Who were the key figures who started to put on shows by lesbian, gay, or transsexual artists? And what did it imply for the participating artists, the institution, and last but not least the curator him/herself? In how far has the focus of shows dedicated to queer art and/or culture been changing since the beginning of the liberation movement, and in how far do these shows reflect current states of feminist and queer discourse and theory? And, last but not least, in how far do these exhibitions also have an impact on how art history is written or the other way around?
I will reflect on these questions by examining some key examples from the early 1970s till today, among them A Lesbian Show curated by Harmony Hammond in 1978 at 112 Greene Street Workshop, and Extended Sensibilities. Homosexual Presence in Contemporary Art curated by Daniel J. Cameron at the New Museum in 1982. Both of them meant publically coming out for most of the participating artists, who consequently had to fear a backlash on their career. More recent examples include Das achte Feld at Museum Ludwig in Cologne in 2006, which clearly tried to reach a wider audience. Similar to all female shows, these examples also bare the danger of putting artists into the queer box, and thereby narrow down the reading of their work. It is therefore also to be critically investigated in how far minorities within the lgbtqi community (like lesbians with aids and queer people of colour) were represented in shows like these, and in how far gender mainstreaming in the curatorial field bears the danger of a loss or even sell out of the community.
Fiona McGovern is an art historian, writer, and curator based in Berlin. Last year she has published her first monograph Die Kunst zu zeigen. Künstlerische Ausstellungsdisplays bei Joseph Beuys, Martin Kippenberger, Mike Kelley und Manfred Pernice (transcript 2016). Since then she has more extensively focused on her other main fields of interest, art and identity politics and the intersections of art and music since the 1960s. She has been teaching on these subjects at various universities and art schools in Germany and Austria. Fiona McGovern is also the co-editor of Assign & Arrange. Methodologies of Presentation in Art and Dance (Sternberg 2014), and has frequently contributed to magazines like Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, and frieze d/e. Since July 2016 she is curating the screening series Sounding Images at Kunsthaus Acud in Berlin, which focuses on the interrelation of moving images and sound, and frequently involves guests from various backgrounds.