A historic collection show with approximately 250 works on view. Expanded Visions mines the rich cultural coffers of the Museum’s collection to trace the evolution of our institution, amid decades of shifting social conditions. The exhibition presents a survey of the collection initiated by the Museum co-founders, Charles Leslie and Fritz Lohman, who have spent more than 50 years amassing artworks that speak directly to the LGBTQ experience. Their early efforts yielded one of the most unique archives of work that would have otherwise been lost or destroyed, which comprises the core of the Museum’s collection that now houses more than 30,000 objects.
This exhibition parallels Art AIDS America, now on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. As a deeper dive into that exhibition, it selects nine of its artists for an expanded showing. Since the onset of the plague, images of HIV/AIDS have been highly politicized. A newly empowered Christian Right, sensing an opening, sought to make AIDS a wedge issue, reinvigorating increasingly old stereotypes about homosexual sickness and contagion, infection of the young, sad lives and early deaths. By the mid-1980s, they had successfully passed legislation that caused the United States government to effectively censor the display and circulation of all AIDS-related visual material if any support came from government funds. Simultaneously, a new wind in art criticism dismissed the very prospect of artistic statement and expressivity as outmoded and theoretically unsophisticated, arguing that meaning was not the province of the artist, but of the viewer, whose act of interpretation gave all art its voice. As a result, AIDS in art was policed by two overlapping regimes, one centered in Washington and the other in the art world. To combat these twin forces, artists embraced a variety of approaches—sometimes hiding AIDS content, sometimes celebrating it—to address loss, both personal and collective, as the plague raged.
The nine artists of A Deeper Dive embody a wide range of political tactics for representing HIV/AIDS across the changing American cultural landscape from the early years of the plague to our current times. Working across a range of media, these artists reflect a multitude of social realities and speak to the various challenges faced by individuals from different communities.
These works offer up a spectrum of emotional and political responses that cannot be separated from the lives of their makers. Taken as a whole, they reflect the past and present of a disease that still haunts us, physically, ideologically, and politically.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum is a sponsor of the national tour of Art AIDS America. After the Bronx Museum, the show will travel to the Alphawood Foundation Gallery in Chicago.
“None of the funds made available under this Act… shall be used to provide AIDS education, information or prevention materials and activities that promote or encourage, directly or indirectly, homosexual sexual activities.”- Senator Jesse Helms’s amendment to a federal act supporting AIDS related programs through the Center for Disease Control, 1987
Curated by Jonathan David Katz and Andrew Barron with the assistance of Chris Borschel.
Opening Reception: 6p
Runs through 2nd October
An exhibition of 15 artists on queer collage drawn from the archives alongside work by contemporary artists.
Cock, Paper, Scissors places special focus on the work of four rarely exhibited artists that produced collages for personal pleasure drawn from the collections at ONE Archives at the USC Libraries and the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art. From ONE, this includes the anonymous “Graphic Albums Collection,” which combines gay male pornography with pages from interior design and visual arts magazines, and the collages by erotic artist Olaf Odegaard. From the Leslie-Lohman Museum, this includes the anonymous “West End Collection,” a vast archive of Xeroxed collages of BDSM imagery, many including Nazi fetishism, and collages by psychic Ingo Swann, who developed a process known as “remote viewing” for the CIA during the 1970s. In addition, the exhibition includes collages by Steve Blevins as reproduced in gay porn magazines from the 1980s, often as illustrations for erotic fiction. Theses eclectic producers all utilize gay male pornography to innovative and wildly explicit ends.
While Cock, Paper, Scissors is undoubtedly a celebration of the numerous uses of gay male pornography, the inclusion of historical and contemporary feminist collage practices seeks to address gay male phallocentrism with feminist critique and lesbian power. The exhibition includes a site-specific installation by feminist pioneer Mary Beth Edelson, part of an ongoing series of collage projects initiated years after her renowned collage posters of the 1970s; a series of preparatory collages by Marlene McCarty produced for her large-scale drawings of young women who committed patricide; and a series of mixed-media collages by veteran feminist artist Anita Steckel that places the artist within drawings by Tom of Finland, exploring the possibility of alternate forms of cross-gender desire and visual pleasure.
Many of the artists in Cock, Paper, Scissors utilize collage for deconstruction or intervention within the circulation of images. Enrique Castrejon meticulously cuts-up and measures the figures from the gay porn magazine Black Inches. Jonathan Molina-Garcia combines images of his own body with those of older HIV+ men as part of a larger series on gay male intergenerational knowledge. Suzanne Wright merges the female body with monumental and utopian architecture. Glenn Ligon plays with the vernacular form of the photo-album, combining fetishistic photographs of Black men with family photographs. Jade Yumang screen-prints pages from vintage porn magazines onto fancifully decorative bundles of soft sculpture phalluses. In a newly commissioned work responding to the archive of West End, Kate Huh utilizes fragments from the collection to produce collages that are embroidered by LJ Roberts.