March 16th, 2022.
“Queer as a concept runs against all definitions, all fixed meaning, forever questioning, redeploying, twisting terms, texts and itself from conventional usage.” Christoph Ribbat, Professor of American Studies at the Universität Paderborn in Germany, and author of Queer and Straight Photography, published in the journal ‘Amerikastudien’, 2001.
History is strewn with artworks that explore the queer landscape. From Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Pirckheimer, Willibald’ (1503) with its shock caption (google will lead you there), to Dada member Hannah Hoch’s literary masterpiece “The Painter” (1920), Andy Warhol’s underground films and ‘Sticky Fingers’ record cover design for the Rolling Stones, Nan Goldin’s photographs of New York’s underbelly in the 70’s and 80’s, and Australian photographer Ponch Hawkes which capture key moments in Australia’s cultural and social histories. Such a distillation of works that navigate the tumultuous LGBTQI+ history while offering diverse perspectives and insights.
Rainbow Aphorisms by David McDiarmid
Male Nudes by Duncan Grant
QUEER shines a light on the NGV Collection to examine and reveal the queer stories works of art can tell. This exhibition of works from the NGV Collection spans historical eras and diverse media including painting, drawing, photography, decorative arts, fashion, video, sculpture, and design and explores queerness as an expression of sexuality and gender, a political movement, a sensibility, and as an attitude that defies fixed definition.
Nan Goldin’s Drag Photography
Rather than attempting to provide a definitive history of queer art, the exhibition explores the NGV Collection from a queer perspective, presenting and interpreting queer concepts and stories. Many works in the exhibition are by artists who identify as queer; some are by artists who lived in times when such identification was not possible; and some works are not by queer artists but have a connection to queer histories. The exhibition highlights that queerness is intersectional, and that LGBTQ+ rights are interwoven with other political and equality movements. Beyond exploring new layers of interpretation and reinvestigating conventional narratives, this exhibition also considers absences in the NGV Collection itself, by excavating queer history where it has been omitted or eclipsed, through oversight or intent.
Written excerpt from the NGV.