Monday, July 14, 2008

Just Different

Is defining yourself as different a legitimate position to take? And more so, is this a position a museum should be taking when curating an exhibition? This was the debate we ended into yesterday after visiting Cobra Museum´s exhibition Just Different on sexual minorities in visual arts.

The international exhibition looks at the representation of sexual minorities through more and less known artists, often themselves gay or lesbian. The exhibition varies from contributions by world renowned artists like Wolfgang Tillmans or Gilbert & George and to less known artists such as Karol Radziszewski (see pic) whose clever work on radical fag fighters attacking straight people wearing pink hoods knitted by Radziszweski's grandmother was one of the highlights of the exhibition.

All and all, I left the exhibition rather disappointed. The representation of sexual minorities was overly sex- and male-driven with even female artists reflecting their relationship on the penis. When it comes to the subject of penis, in this exhibition one saw it in all shape and form from graphic drawings to knitted hoods. Somehow easy, I would say. Or maybe I have just visited too many contemporary art museums.

But back to the debate. I found it bold that the exhibition in its works did not play on the notions of respect or tolerance but started more from self-representation and self-definition. I do understand that advocacy organisations wish to push forward the diversity agenda (all different but equal) but the arts needs to have to right to take also other stands (different by choice). I would have just wanted to see more works like Radziszewski, which step into more unexplored areas of sexuality and tackle relationship to the dominant forces from a fresh angle.

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