Physical World

If you haven’t considered human gender and sexuality on a philosophical level lately, take a second to let artist Del LaGrace Volcano navigate you through the complicated, impassioned geography using photography. Volcano’s portraits are not necessarily beautiful, but lead viewers to come to their own notion of beauty, race, culture, heart and necessity, and ultimately the weight of clarifications of gender, through incisive and thoughtful sentiments stated clearly, some with heartbreaking quip, bold but not unnerving. More appreciative and quizzically unintrusive, their simplicity allows their manifestos to feel like a given, at least momentarily. The sweeping sentiment is a spirituality one may prescribe to.

“Del LaGrace Volcano’s art consistently refuses “either/or” categories in favor of “both/and.” His/her art asks the kinds of questions that make their answers provisional and even irrelevant, because the truth is in the asking.”

Moj Minstrel Tears, Antarctic Peninsula, 2005. “These portraits of Mojisola Adebayo were taken for her one-woman play, Moj of the Antarctic, inspired by the true story of Ellen Craft, an African-American slave woman who escaped to freedom in London by double passing as white and as a man. Here every visible signifier of identity cancels out every other one: white meets black, blackface meets black, culture meets nature, male meets female. The images make manifest that identity is a social performance and like all performances, is subject to change depending on the quality of the stagecraft involved.”

Charlotte Karlsdotter, Stockholm, 2007. “Charlotte considers herself feminine, but cherishes her beard, noting that, “A well shaped and kept beard is a beautiful ornament that shouldn’t belong to men only…My emotional associations with beards are linked to warmth, maturity and stability. To believe myself able to grow a good beard and feel myself worthy of it, is not something I’ve taken for granted.””

Bio Queen, Drag King: Sule & Jaq, Brick Lane, London, 2000. “This image, along with Sunset Strip Soho and Robert and Kevin, Liverpool Street Station, are queer images of love and desire enacted in locations that were hate crime sites, places that targeted queers and ethnic minority populations and often both at the same time.”

“Consider intersex bodies. Consider my body. A body that has chosen to amplify rather than erase its 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.”

 

 

 

Each of the works and their intents can be viewed online here.

Del LaGrace Volcano: A Mid-Career Retrospective is on view at the Leslie-Lohman Museum until November 11, 2012.

 

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