Leslie Lohman Museum

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To picture a queer body does more than declare difference: it enacts freedom.

This exhibition explores the responses of queer feminist artists to dominant notions about the body from the 1970s to present day. Reflecting the ever-growing diversity of feminist art, After Our Bodies Meet provides a cross-cultural examination of how artists represent the body to challenge past and present forms of oppression and to envision a queer future.

Historically, queerness and feminism have not always been harmoniously entwined. Early lesbian feminists not only experienced marginalization at the hand of patriarchy, but also by the heterosexist feminist movement, which labeled them “a lavender menace.” Fueled by this exclusion, lesbian artists created work that documented and empowered their community, emphasizing the female body’s capacity for pleasure, procreation and power outside of the heterosexual imagination. Since then, queer artists have continued to respond to themes related to the body as a form of resistance and liberation. The works of these eleven artists offer a glimpse of the ongoing global struggle, both within and beyond their communities, for visibility, agency, and inclusion for lesbian and transgender people.

Beyond representing queer bodies removed from mainstream culture, many contemporary feminist artists actively engage with the rooted mythologies, violence, and ideals surrounding cisgender female and transgender bodies. Through appropriation, abstraction, and humor, the queer body serves as a site of transgression and revision, dismantling oppressive histories only to reassemble them into a radical vision of corporeality, citizenship, and desire.

Tee A. Corinne
American 1943-2006

While most lesbian feminist artists of the 1970s resisted depicting the female body in order to evade the male gaze, Corinne created erotic images of lesbians, for lesbians. One of Corinne’s strategies for resisting the objectification of female bodies was to abstract them using solarization and mirrors. These processes provided a sense of privacy and distance for her subjects, while also symbolizing lesbians’ fractured and obscured social status. Conversely, Corinne also depicted lesbian sexuality through more explicit means, making photographs and drawings of women’s genitalia, the latter of which were reproduced in her famous 1975 publication, Cunt Coloring Book. These images of vulvas functioned as portraits of real anatomies rather than idealized heterosexual male fantasies, which provided a humanizing and politically charged approach to sex education. Believing that magazines and books were the most accessible and economical way to connect with a viewing audience, Corinne focused on publishing her work instead of exhibiting it in galleries.


Corinne

Tee A. Corinne
#10 (from the Cunt Coloring Book), 1975

Vintage print
11 x 8.5in.
Collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives
(Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation)


Corinne

Tee A. Corinne
#5 (from the Cunt Coloring Book), 1975

Vintage print
11 x 8.5 in.
Collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives
(Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation)


Corinne

Tee A. Corinne
#6 (from the Cunt Coloring Book), 1975

Vintage print
11 x 8.5in.
Collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives
(Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation)


Corinne

Tee A. Corinne
#9 (from the Cunt Coloring Book), 1975

Vintage print
11 x 8.5in.
Collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives
(Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation)


Corinne

Tee A. Corinne
American, 1943-2006
Cunt Coloring Book, 1975

Publication
11 x 8.5 in
Leslie-Lohman Library VF0182

Audre Lorde
American 1934 – 1992

Audre Lorde was, in her own words, a “black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” During the 1960s, Lorde vocally challenged mainstream feminism’s simplistic focus on gender, arguing for recognition of all the intersections of identity—including class, race, age, gender, and health. While critical of the ways dominant group identities could erase individual differences, Lorde considered community crucial to liberation. When she first delivered her paper, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” at the Fourth Berkshire Conference at Mount Holyoke, Lorde proclaimed that the erotic was a liberating and unifying force within women which had been distorted by the pornographic. While some of today’s feminist activists have reclaimed pornography as a didactic and self-affirming genre, Lorde’s message still captures the importance of openly embracing one’s sexuality in self-affirmation and as a method of political agency.


Furie

Noel Furie
Audre Lorde at Norwalk Community College, mid-1970s

Vintage black and white photograph
10.75 x 10.83 in.
Courtesy of Dr. Deirdre Kidder
Collection of the Lesbian Herstory Archives
(Lesbian Herstory Educational Foundation)


Audre Lorde
Uses of the Erotic: the Erotic as Power, 1978

Digital audio, duration 18:00
18 minutes

Cathy Cade
American b. 1942

During the emergence of lesbian feminist publications in the early 1970s, Cathy Cade became one of the foremost photographers responsible for documenting lesbians as independently powerful and fiercely loving forces within their homes and society. Championing a wide spectrum of lesbianism, Cade’s subjects included radical activists, women of color, disabled women, fat women, and pregnant women. During the 1970s, Cade’s decision to become a mother was considered radical by lesbian separatists given the possibility (and eventually the reality) that she would give birth to a son. Documentary photographers during her involvement in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement nurtured Cade’s fascination with photography, which only translated into practice upon encountering lesbians learning the skills of other male-dominated professions. Consequently, Cade’s coming out as a lesbian coincided with her self-realization as a photographer. Through photography, Cade found a way to be a part of the Women’s Movement on her own terms.


Cade

Cathy Cade
Last Days, 1989

Digital exhibition print
17 x 25 in.
Collection of University of California, Berkeley


Cade

Cathy Cade
Two Torsos, Oakland, CA, 1979

Panchromatic B&W photographic print
17 x 25in.
Foundation purchase

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