17 Must-See LGBTQ Exhibitions This Summer
A roundup of don't-miss summer shows, from Dynasty Handbag to Harry Dodge.
The painter John Constable supposedly wrote that summer is “the time of year when the devil comes and spews art over London.”
Two centuries later, summer again brings art to the masses. For the priggish, June is an especially bad time, since it is Pride Month in New York and in many other cities worldwide, in homage to the Stonewall Rebellion, which took place on June 28, 1969.
It’s tough to create a list of contemporary queer artist shows, for one, because the list is so long, and two, competition is so fierce. But it’s handy to have in case you are asked about edifying activities at a party or during a parade this month, or if you get stuck debating the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.
So in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Queer artists, here’s a list of don’t-miss summer exhibitions in New York and beyond.
1. WHO: Anthony Iacono
WHAT: Anthony Iacono’s latest exhibition, “Crudités at Sunset,” wins for title of the year. This is the artist’s first major solo exhibition in New York, and he’ll be showing a series of sexually suggestive painted cutout collages featuring nude men and food. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a video titled Grapefruit, which features a gentleman in his skivvies squashing said fruit “against a pink-tiled shower.” The press release says that “The sound of the grapefruit exhausting its juices is both perverse and comical.” We certainly hope so.
WHEN: July 9–August 7, 2015
WHERE: P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York
2. WHO: Zanele Muholi
WHAT: South African photographer and LGBTQI+ activist Zanele Muholi brings a series of portraits of lesbians and gender non-conforming subjects to the Brooklyn Museum. By turns harrowing and celebratory, the show demonstrates the artist-as-activist role in full force in the show, titled “Zanele Muholi: Isibonelo/Evidence.” As David Wojnarowicz wrote in Close to the Knives: A Memoir of Disintegration, “Some of us are born with the cross-hairs of a rifle scope printed on our backs.” Muholi shows us the effect of this hatred in her homeland, just as Wojnarowicz did with his.
WHEN: May 1–November 1, 2015
WHERE: Brooklyn Museum, New York
3. WHO: Chitra Ganesh
WHAT: The artist’s wall work Eyes of Time (2014) might be the headliner of this show, but it isn’t the real draw. Her 2002 zine, Tales of Amnesia, shows the inner workings of Ganesh’s mind as she explores issues of sexuality, desire, and control by creating a superhero(ine)’s journey via the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana.
WHEN: December 12, 2014–July 12, 2015
WHERE: Brooklyn Museum, New York
4. WHO: Harry Dodge
WHAT: The body, “which might here be conceived as a kind of organic filter for insuperable questions,” as the press release puts it, is given a constant workout in the transgender artist Harry Dodge’s latest exhibition, “The Cybernetic Fold.” Martha Schwendener writes in the New York Times that “with its profusion of ideas and hallucinogenic objects, Mr. Dodge’s show is an exemplary illustration of what it means to exist in the cybernetic fold of our moment.”
WHEN: May 16–June 20, 2015
WHERE: Wallspace, New York
5. WHO: Marlon Riggs and Felix Gonzalez-Torres
WHAT: In the group show “Tongues Untied,” the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles is dusting off works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, John Boskovich, and other artists from its collection to accompany Marlon Riggs’s incendiary film by the same name, in time for the 30th anniversary of the gay mecca known as the City of West Hollywood.
WHEN: June 6–September 13, 2015
WHERE: MOCA, Los Angeles
6. WHO: Superm (Brian Kenny and Slava Mogutin)
WHAT: The group show Interface features 30 artists who are mainly based in New York and who have all formed connections to the other artists via social media (read: Instagram). In the show, Brain Kenny and Slava Mogutin, aka Superm, have a found text and found frame work, pictured here, with a title that takes no prisoners.
WHEN: May 15–August 2, 2015
WHERE: Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York
7. WHO: Edie Fake
WHAT: Edie Fake is trying to create a queer Utopia, so watch out. The USC7 dropout is the author of the comic collection Gaylord Phoenix and the series Memory Palaces, which explores sites of queer and feminist collective memory in Chicago. His latest exhibition, “Grey Area,” features intricate ink and gouache works, with insider titles such as Sugar in the Tank and Friends of Dorothy.
WHEN: June 19–July 18, 2015
WHERE: Western Exhibitions, Chicago
8. WHO: Sam McKinness
WHAT: McKinness is presenting new paintings for his LA debut exhibition, “Dear Metal Thing”; the first half of the works are “sexually suggestive and distinctly funereal” and the second are “grey-scale abstractions,” according to the press release. We’re also curious about his necklaces, but that’s another matter entirely.
WHEN: June 7–August 9, 2015
WHERE: Team Gallery’s bungalow, Los Angeles
9. WHO: Ugo Rondinone
WHAT: Kenny Schachter didn’t like these faux bricks at Art Basel, mostly because they’re so market-friendly. However, there is something poetic about these colorful painted bricks in “Walls + Windows + Doors,” Ugo Rondinone’s latest exhibition; the artist turns inward, taking us by the hand and guiding us through a space entirely his own.
WHEN: June 13–July 24, 2015
WHERE: Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
10. WHO: Zoe Leonard
WHAT: In 1992, Zoe Leonard released a letter to a deeply fractured America, titled “I want a president.” It begins by stating, “I want a dyke for president,” and ends with an explanation of the impossibility of such a request. The result of a decade-long photographic exploration of urban life at home and abroad, “Analogue” is Leonard’s latest contribution to the arts. She shoots her square chromogenic color prints on a 1940s Rolleiflex camera, which was also a favorite of W. Eugene Smith, and the results are captivating.
WHEN: June 27–August 30, 2015
WHERE: Museum of Modern Art, New York
11. WHO: 2015 Yale Photography Graduates, with a text by Hilton Als
WHAT: The latest exhibition at Regen Projects’ West Hollywood space is titled “Lovely Dark,” with text by New Yorker writer and critic Hilton Als that spills the tea on when Diane Arbus photographed Stonewall mainstay Stormé DeLarverie at the famed Jewel Box. Now, a handful of recent graduates will show off what they’ve learned from their time at Yale. One of the photographers, Bryson Rand, told the blog Don/Dean, “Seeing [Robert Frank’s] The Americans for the first time as a teenager, coming out to my parents, and the death of my grandfather are events that continue to inform the images regardless of whatever else is going on in my life.”
WHEN: July 2–August 1, 2015
WHERE: Regen Projects, Los Angeles
12. WHO: John Waters and Jacolby Satterwhite
WHAT: “Queer Fantasy” is a solid summer group show with a formidable list of artists: A.K. Burns, Leidy Churchman, Jimmy DeSana, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Mariah Garnett, Jacolby Satterwhite, David Benjamin Sherry, Jack Smith, A.L. Steiner, and John Waters. It’s curated by William J. Simmons (don’t worry, he’s not the Ku Klux Klan founder, but a young arts writer), and the show focuses on works from the 1950s to today.
WHEN: July 11–August 15, 2015
WHERE: OHWOW Gallery, Los Angeles
13. WHO: Sameer Farooq
WHAT: Sameer Farooq is on our team but his partner in crime, Mirjam Linschooten, is an ally. Farooq wrote in an email to artnet News that she is “like a big old gay man inside!,” so this has to count for something. The art duo was previously responsible for the Museum of Found Objects, a pop-up collection of ephemera found in Istanbul.
In their latest show, “The Figure in the Carpet,” they dig into the idea of the ethnographic museum. The image above shows three painted wooden posters featuring Moroccan newspaper headlines such as “Magical methods of controlling your computer from a distance,” “The pomegranate, first fruit of autumn and blessed by heaven,” and our favorite, “The foods that will augment your sexual capacities.”
WHEN: June 14–August 2, 2015
WHERE: Blackwood Art Gallery, Mississauga, Ontario
14. WHO: Tseng Kwong Chi
WHAT: Tseng Kwong Chi moved to Manhattan in 1978 and quickly took up with the downtown art crowd; Keith Haring, Bill T. Jones, Madonna, and Jean-Michel Basquiat were in his circle. An exhibition at Grey Art Gallery, “Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera,” presents his 10-year art career, which was cut short by his death at 39, of AIDS. “In his utopia, everyone would be having fun; no one would be left out,” Ken Johnson writes in his review of the show in the New York Times.
WHEN: April 21–July 11, 2015
WHERE: Grey Art Gallery, New York
15. WHO: Nina Chanel Abney
WHAT: On the heels of the “Womanhouse” redux at Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton, New York, Nina Chanel Abney returns to her hometown of Chicago with a new, LGBTQ-themed installation, On the Wall. The installation is part of the group exhibition titled Look At Me Now!, curated by Allison Glenn.
WHEN: June 13–August 23, 2015
WHERE: Monique Meloche, Chicago
16. WHO: Tianzhuo Chen
WHAT: This is Tianzhuo Chen’s first solo show in France, and he appears to be making the most of it. The exhibition features “colourful, grotesque and kitsch imagery, dominated by direct references to drugs, LGBT hip-hop, the London rave scene, Japanese Butoh, voguing in New York and the fashion world.”
While there, don’t miss Korakrit Arunanondchai’s “Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3,” the last in a series of three videos invoking Buddhist and Animist themes, which also includes a “denim body painting” inspired by the famous Thai go-go dancer, Duangjai Jansaonoi.
WHEN: June 24 – August 13, 2015
WHERE: Palais de Tokyo, Paris
17. WHO: Jibz Cameron, aka Dynasty Handbag
WHAT: Dynasty Handbag is one of the funniest art alter-egos around. She recently staged a live talk show at the Kitchen, and I’m pretty sure most of the audience was crying and laughing simultaneously. Most of her performances involve frontal wedgies created by godawful unitards, and lots of uncomfortable whining.
At MOCA, she and comedian Kate Berlant will hold court at second annual celebration of performance, “Step & Repeat,” which also features the vocal stylings of artist/musician Geo Wyeth.
WHEN: July 17-19, 2015
WHERE: MOCA, Los Angeles
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