Queering the Gays/Gaze: sex, street, and subculture in 1970s queer erotic photography
The decriminalization of homosexuality in the 1960s enabled legal protection for homosexuality and made it possible for same-sex desiring men and women to produce, possess, publish and consume erotic images without fear of police retribution or censor. Although photography played a pivotal role in the construction of queer identities in the newly protected public and private spheres, the art world was slow to embrace sex, street and subculture as high art. This talk explores the tension between high and low – between the museum and the street – as a fundamental feature of efforts to queer the gays/gaze after Stonewall. It takes up the problem of nostalgia in 1970s queer erotic photography and analyses the history and transformation of subject formation through the constitution and portrayal of erotic looking and seeing.
Jennifer Evans holds an Ph.D in Modern European History. She teaches a variety of courses in 20th century German history with a primary interest in the history of sexuality. Her book, Life Among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) explores the rebirth of the city’s various subcultures in the aftermath of World War II. She also writes about same-sex sexuality in Nazi and post-1945 Germany and is finishing a manuscript on pink triangle victims after Hitler. Her next two research projects are contemporary in focus. “Hate 2.0: Combatting Right-Wing Extremism in the Age of Social Technology” is a collaborative project supported by SSHRC that analyzes the role and potential of digital media in countering online hate. I am also exploring the way 1970s and 1980s queer erotic photography acted both as a practice of self-actualization and a claim to sexual freedom in the pre- Aids era..
The lecture is held in line with the lecture series ‘Talking Eyes’ that wants to encourage the use of ‘curious’ eyes by providing a platform to foreground marginalised discourses. The series will open up theoretical and practical interventions for subversion from various angles: Five events shall weave a net around the figure ‘Talking Eyes’, opening a space to engage more closely with affective dimensions of images and their production. ‘Talking Eyes’ enter the visual realm, zooming in on the subject that is presented. With ‘Talking Eyes’, subjects and relations are perceived by way of an embodied gaze, introducing questions of sexualised, racialised and gendered subjectivities; pornotopic, forensic, clinical and military detection; surveillance and control of disease; and crime and war. ‘Talking eyes’ evoke a desire to unite image and language. Discussions on the strategies and limitations of representational practices and interventions will be synchronised and positioned next to technological aspects of image production.
Moderation: Katrin Köppert
Time: Thursday 26th April, 7:30pm
Venue: C/O Berlin
Research Group Visual Culture, DFG Research Programme „Gender as a Category of Knowledge”, Humboldt-University of Berlin.
In cooperation with Lehrstuhl Mediengeschichte, Universität Siegen, DFG-Forschungsprojekt „Medienamateure in der homosexuellen Kultur“ as well as with the C/O Berlin-International Forum for Visual Dialogues.