06 May 2006

Homosexuality and Art

I recently read Tyler Green’s comments about Catherine Opie, who is one of contemporary art’s foremost photographers. She’s a lesbian, and has spent over a decade (among other things) documenting “the California gay leather scenes and the lesbian communities that she is a part of.”

That quote comes from Connie Samaras’ 1993 defense of Opie’s work, and the work of other photographers whose work presented “non-normative sexual behavior”. The art world, she claimed had too-long overlooked everything except white, male, heterosexual sexual content. Samaras’ description continues:

“Four photographs are from a series of tight head shots against yellow backgrounds of lesbians wearing moustaches. The images are not about the trompe l'oeil illusion; rather, they playfully destabilize gender boundaries, allowing for the kind of fluidity at work in lesbian gender sex play.”

You can see an example of this, an Opie self-portrait over at Mr. Green’s site. Like Samaras, Green defends Opie’s work, the risk of presenting every conservative’s worst fears about homosexuality. He claims that the homosexual community has tried too hard to conform to mainstream heterosexual norms. “One reason [Opie] takes photographs of her friends in the leather and other alt-sex communities is because she wants to remind people that not all gay people want what HRC wants, not all gay people are as assimilationist as HRC would like, and that there is a multiplicity of gay life in America.

Wow. I don’t even know if he is correct about that. I live in Lebanon. Need I say more? I have no idea if the “real” gay community in the US is more like Samaras and Green and Opie describe it, or more like Andy describes it.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post. A lot of people with a lot of opinions. Complex issues usually bring a lot of people into the discussion, which is a good thing. Social issues like this bring in so many side issues that cloud what is actually being discussed and art is a great way for people to discussion what their viewpoints are of what they see in the art. Personally I want to focus on earning money so I can have time off and the means to get to see my granddaughters but it is good to be reminded of the world outside my little spot. Grandpa Dan

katperkins said...

I think it is interesting that artists claim that homosexuality is not adequately expressed in art. It seems to me that suggestions of homosexuality are everywhere particularly in the art world. It may not be mainstream, but as an artist, don't you usually want your work to be just outside the mainstream? Acknowledged, but not cliche?

Anonymous said...

You better get to posting again or you need to change the name to Impart Art- weekly or monthly or every now and then. =) Grandpa Dan