Exhibitionism A Symposium on Queer Curatorial Practices

I attended the above titled symposium yesterday at The Old Courthouse, Brighton.

‘This symposium will explore the cultural, political, art historical and artistic implications of queer curatorial practices. The international art scene has witnessed an increase in queer exhibitions That have shed new light on LGBTQ art and on the sexual and social dimensions of innovative curating. This symposium gathers together curators, theorists, film programmers, journalists and artists working in queer exhibition practices across a variety of institutions and contexts. We intend to investigate and debate the diversity of curatorial perspectives on historical and contemporary queer art and film and to examine a wide range of issues, among them: the role of the curator as authorial force; the queering of visual fields; the discovery and recovery of repressed queer histories and desires in museum, galleries and cinemas; the political work of curatorial practice.


Sam Ashby, Michael Blyth, Niranjan Kamatkar, Pawel Leszkowicz, Richard Parkinson, Lara Perry, Michael Petry, Michael Pierce, Kate Smith, Matt Smith, Simon Watney  

The event is organised by Pawel Leszkowicz and John David Rhodes, and sponsored by the Centre for Visual Fields and the Centre for the Study of Sexual Dissidence and Cultural Change (University of Sussex), and the Brighton Museum.’

I was most intrigued with what Pawel Leszkowicz had to say about queer art being accepted now, and that it’s ‘been done’, so in the UK it ends up shrinking out of view again. And that in Eastern Europe for example it is still too dangerous and that they should wait to exhibit works dealing with themes. He then went on to say that we are either in a state of thinking that it is ‘too late, too boring, or too early and too risky.’


Michael Petry spoke about the fact that prejudice has not gone away, and that at the exhibition Hidden Histories – The 20th Century Male, they were asked to remove a piece of work which was made up of sweets as it would be seen as a pedophilic way of luring children in. Even when it was explained that the sculpture was made up the artist’s dead lover’s weight in sweets the piece was still banned.

Petry also had an interesting point about how the artist has the right to be stupid but the institution does not. His example was of The Art Guys who married a plant as a perhaps homophobic response to gay marriage, which was then purchased and added to the permanent collection of The Menil Collection.

This reminded me of a very recent article in The Guardian about two t’shirts that Topshop was forced to remove from their shelves after complaints of sexism. I completely agree with Petry in this example as these sorts of slogans on t shirts are common, but by putting them into a large establishment it then allows a wider audience to purchase them without even thinking.


What do you think of the shirts or about prejudice in general? Any thoughts welcome!

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