Gender abolitionist’ to speak

Published September 13, 2012

Internationally acclaimed photographer Del LaGrace Volcano will speak at 8 p.m. Sept. 20 in Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, as part of the Leslie+Lohman Queer Art Lecture Series.

The lecture series is presented by UB’s Department of Visual Studies in partnership with the Leslie+Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and Hallwalls.

It is dedicated to queer art and artists, showcasing the most significant contemporary queer artists with an emphasis on exploring the relationship between their sexuality and their art. Each of the lectures in the series also is presented at the Leslie+Lohman museum in New York City.

Del LaGrace Volcano’s art consistently subverts our expectations, queering either/or categories in favor of both/and: s/he is at once photographer and sitter, American and European, a she and a he, or better, intersexed.

Volcano’s art asks the kind of questions that make all answers irrelevant because the truth is in the asking, not the answer. Deploying the queer body and its contradictory signs of identification, Volcano’s art plays with constructions of gender, sexuality and race, recasting embodiment from a brute fact of nature to a creative exercise of will.

A proud “abolitionist,” Volcano asks why we are so invested in exclusively binary accounts of identity—male or female, black or white, LGBTQ or straight—when we could, instead, support a more inclusive, humane and encompassing blurring of all such categories.

“Volcano’s work, while widely hailed abroad, has received almost no attention by major museums in the U.S., which tend to ignore or marginalize those whose work engages issues of gender and sexuality,” says Jonathan D. Katz, director of UB’s Visual Studies PhD program, president of the Leslie+Lohman Museum and curator of the series. “The Queer Art Lecture Series provides a forum to highlight these artists and give voice to the critical issues that their work explores.”

Widely exhibited in Europe for more than 30 years, Volcano’s appearance in Buffalo, in connection with a mid-career retrospective at the Leslie+Lohman museum, represents his/her first major U.S. museum exhibit and lecture.

A Q & A will follow the lecture.