Resistance & Reinvention

Resistance & Reinvention

It’s estimated that 2,000 people attended the UK’s first Pride march, which was held in London on 1 July 1972. The date was selected because it was the closest Saturday to the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that took place three years prior on 28 June 1969. Today, Brighton & Hove Pride is the largest parade in the UK, with nearly 500,000 people taking part each year. Events of this kind not only bring people together and celebrate how far we’ve come but also fight against discrimination and prejudice faced by the community around the world, paving the way for a better future. Today, we are spotlighting shows led by creatives dedicated to resistance, such as Claude Cahun, Mackenzie Calle and Zanele Muholi.

World Press Photo 2024: Mackenzie Calle | De Nieuwe Kerk | Until 14 July

“You can’t be what you can’t see.” This famous quote comes from the first American woman to ever go to space, Dr Sally Ride (1951-2012). In her obituary, she announced her relationship with Dr Tam O’Shaughnessy – making her the the first known LGBTQIA+ astronaut. Fast forward to today and NASA has still never flown an openly queer person into space. Visual artist Mackenzie Calle shares this fact, along with more research into the NASA archives, in The Gay Space Agency. The project documents the history of exclusion embedded in the space programme next to a photography series that imagines an inclusive organisation of the future. It’s a vital project that has been recognised internationally by prestigious awards including World Press Photo 2024, Sony World Photography Awards and the Aesthetica Art Prize.

Read our interview with Mackenzie in the June issue, learn more.

Meditations on Love | The Photographers’ Gallery | Until 22 September

Meditations On Love welcomes you to consider how love is preserved, represented and remembered through an archive of novels, nonfiction works and photo books. The Photographers’ Gallery commissioned the Develop Collective, which is made up of six emerging creatives, to curate this exhibition. They have designed the space to look like a reading room, where everyone is invited to explore the multitude of books on display and reflect on the common thread that runs through these stories of community, friendship, identity, resilience, subversion and queerness. Artists such as Deana Lawson, Ewen Spencer, Ollie Adegboye, Peggy Nolan and Tami Aftab explore the languages of love through a global lens. This is a tribute to the many facets of love, which can be: defiant, provocative, queeer, sacrificial and tender.

I’m a Thousand Different People – Every One is Real | Leslie Lohman | Until 5 January 2025

The title of this exhibition is a quote borrowed from American actress and trans icon Candy Darling. Her words embrace self-acceptance of all the different people we are and have the potential to become. She evokes the multidimensionality of LGBTQIA+ lives as well as artistic practices that insist on defining ourselves on our own terms. Now, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art brings together a selection of recently acquired work from Angela Dufresne, Kia LaBeija, Tommy Kha and many more. The pieces on display — which vary across media and representational styles — embrace a spectral, prismatic approach to rendering LGBTQIA+ existence. Both contemporary and historical, these photographs elide the demand for easy legibility, instead holding space for fantasy, plurality and our power to reinvent ourselves.

Zanele Muholi | Tate Modern | 6 June – 26 January 2025

Acclaimed visual activist Zanele Muholi presents their first solo exhibition of work in the UK with this self-titled exhibition at Tate Modern. There are more than 300 photographs on view spanning the breadth of the artist’s career. It’s a testament to an artistic practice devoted to resisting oppression. Muholi rose to prominence in the early 2000s whilst highlighting the stories of Black LGBTQIA+ people in their home country. Visitors will get to see these early works alongside their latest projects, including sculptures and the most recent additions to their ongoing Somnyama Ngonyama self-portrait series. In the latter project, Muholi turns the camera on themselves in a number of stylised monochromatic scenes exploring Eurocentricism, labour, racism and sexual politics. From behind the frame, Muholi’s eyes meet ours.

Claude Cahun: Beneath this Mask | Abbot Hall | Until 3 August

“Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.” Whilst consistently referring to herself as “elle” (she), French photographer Claude Cahun (1894–1954) rebelled against the narrow confines of gender throughout her art and life. Born Lucy Schwob, she adopted the gender-neutral pseudonym in 1917. The decision is in harmony with a practice dedicated to exploring themes of identity through multiple characters. She created numerous images that challenged notions of age, gender, identity surroundings. These photographs can be read as anti-portraiture. While portraiture sets out to capture and commemorate an individual, Cahun’s photographs disrupt the idea of a single ‘self’.  

Image Credits:

  1. Tommy Kha, Exchange Place VI, Midtown Memphis, 2019. Pigment print, 27 x 21 5/8 in. Collection of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. Museum purchase, O’Neal Fund. 2023.3.2. © Tommy Kha.
  2. The Gay Space Agency, © Mackenzie Calle. Project funded with support from the Magnum Foundation Counter Histories Grant.
  3. BW/two girls kissing image: Juggling is Easy © Peggy Nolan.
  4. Tommy Kha, Exchange Place VI, Midtown Memphis, 2019. Pigment print, 27 x 21 5/8 in. Collection of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. Museum purchase, O’Neal Fund. 2023.3.2. © Tommy Kha.
  5. Zanele Muholi Khumbulani II Room 2005 Hotel Riu Times Square New York 2022 Photogr aph, silver gelatin print on paper 458 × 683 mm. Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson, New York © Zanele Muholi
  6. Claude Cahun, Self Portrait, 1928 Courtesy and copyright Jersey Heritage.