BODIES THAT QWEER
Sexologists like Magnus Hirschfeld used medical photography to collect what they understood as “evidence” of gender and sexual variation, including inter-sex bodies. Photographs of naked people and close-ups of genitals were published in medical textbooks, shown in sexological films and displayed for visitors to Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexology. Whether people consented to their bodies being displayed in this way is highly doubtful.
These forms of display are damaging in that they medicalised bodies that were seen to defy binary understandings of sex and gender, suggesting that it was up to the viewer to judge and classify the bodies and people shown in photographs. They show how professional and medical examination was simultaneously part of public and popular exhibition. Medicalised bodies are on display to educate and entertain in ways that connects the scientific work of the Institute with earlier examples of scientific spectacle, such as the medical freak show.
Volcano’s INTER*me series interrogates these histories by exposing how photographic technologies have served to regulate gender. At the same time, Volcano’s work demonstrates how photographic self-portraiture can provide spaces of possible resistance.
The queer body is a body that is always in transition. Transmogrification, not conversion.
[according to Professor Jay Prosser]
A monstrous and sublime mutation
[according to me]
INTER*me began when I became acutely aware of my mortality shortly after the birth of my first child in 2011 at the age of 54.
Questions of life, death, ageing and the experience of living with a illegible body in almost total social isolation in middle Sweden were the motivating factors for this project.
Over the span of 10 years my body has continued to evolve, as all bodies do.
The photographic techniques and materials are as precarious and unpredictable as my gender identity.
INTER*me is both an invitation and exploration of the affects rendered visible on a body that refuses to conform to traditional concepts of sex or gender.
Queer bodies are ‘Bodies That (don’t) Matter’. Bodies that are disposable and often disowned. Bodies that are not valued or valuable. Bodies that through the simple act of existence personify resistance.
Queer bodies are bodies that refuse regulation and resist classification and at the same time create spectacles of ourselves. Bodies that are confined to spaces where access is available and access needs to mean so much more than a ramp and a handicap toilet.
Queer bodies are vulgar bodies; plebeian bodies, street bodies, bodies that don’t know the meaning of discipline, bodies that rejects the adage “one can never be too rich or too thin”. Queer bodies create the template for cultural disgust and teach us what we must not want to be or to have
Consider intersex bodies. Consider my body. A body that has chosen to amplify rather than erase it’s inter-sex-i-ness. A body that is unwilling and unable to conform to claustrophobic cultural definitions of female OR male. A body that puts itself on the line to be judged–by you.
Consider the fact that the socio-medical industrial complex continues to have the power
to regulate and re-form our intersex bodies,
to cut away our ability to experience genital pleasure or to reproduce ourselves in all our ambiguous glory.
What does the queer body do ? It performs abjection with the kind of power only those of us who are despised can acquire.
It shows us how to love all that we are taught to hate. Through this act of repudiation, this act of affirmation, the queer body screams…
…Look at me. Love me. IF you dare.
Del LaGrace Volcano is considered to be one of instigators of queer LGBTQI culture with a working practice that not only documents a ‘queer time and place’ but are also iconic testaments to the love, lust, and burning desire to defy the forces that seek to destroy, disrespect and deactivate us.
They have occupied many names, bodies and identities in their 60+ odd years but the most satisfying to date has been as a parent called MaPa to two young gender non-conforming kids in Middle Sweden.