The term ‘Queer’ can be quite a loaded one. If you are an out-and-proud member of the LGBTQIA+ communities, you could feel comfortable using the word in applying it to yourself, perhaps even to a friend. But if a straight person uses it in regards to a stranger or someone they’ve just met, best they fear the wrath of the recipient.
To help educate (if you will) the greater population, NGV is getting ready to host an exhibition titled Queer, which will be Australia’s first exhibition to extensively explore life through a queer lens celebrating rich, diverse and often untold stories from the LGBTQIA+ communities.
Spanning five gallery spaces and featuring more than 300 artworks across historical eras and cultures, the Queer will be the most historically expansive thematic presentation of artworks relating to queer stories ever mounted in an Australian art institution.
Drawing on contemporary research, interpretation and analysis, the exhibition will also explore the narratives that might not have been visible in the past due to suppression, prejudice or discrimination.
‘Queer’ will be curated across more than ten thematic sections that will explore a variety of historical and contemporary subject matter, including activism and protest, love and desire, community and connection, text and performance, discrimination and loss, and more.
The works on display will span the media gamut, including painting, drawing, photography, decorative arts, fashion, textiles, video, sculpture, design and architecture.
Highlight works include Adelaide-born Leigh Bowery’s subversive and boundary-pushing fashion aesthetic; photography from the Gay Liberation Movement in Melbourne; iconic gay-referencing works by Hoda Afshar, recently acquired video work Atlantic is a Sea of Bones by Tourmaline, a transgender woman, artist and activist; and intimate depictions of the female nude as photographed by Germaine Krull and Florence Henri.
The exhibition will also identify and negotiate absences in the NGV Collection, by excavating queer history where it has been omitted or eclipsed.
Lots to be uncovered, to be sure. And plenty of diversity to satisfy everyone.
Lisa Andrews & Antonino Tati
‘Queer’ will run from 10 December 2021 to June 2022 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Entry will be free.
Further information is available via the NGV website.