National Gallery of Victoria will have a focus on queer art

A new exhibition opening at the National Gallery Victoria in 2021 will focus on queer art.

Queer will be a landmark, Australian-first exhibition that will explore the NGV Collection through a queer lens and celebrate the rich, diverse and sometimes untold stories that emerge. Spanning five gallery spaces and featuring more than 300 artworks across historical eras and cultures, the exhibition will be the most comprehensive thematic presentation of artworks relating to queer stories ever mounted in an Australian art institution.

Bringing together a breadth of artworks from antiquity to the present day, the exhibition will illuminate the ways in which queer lives and stories have been expressed in art through history. 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.

The exhibition will be curated across more than ten thematic sections and include painting, drawing, photography, decorative arts, fashion, textiles, video, sculpture, design and architecture.

Amongst the exhibitions will be works from designer Leigh Bowery, photographers Ponch Hawkes and Brassaï, artist Albrecht Dürer and Peter Behrens, and many others.

The gallery says the artworks in the exhibition reflect the multifaceted meaning and usage of the word ‘queer’: as an expression of sexuality and gender, as a philosophy, as a political movement, as a sensibility, as an attitude that defies fixed definition, as well as the impossibility of a single term to capture the multitude of lived experiences. Many of the artworks included in the exhibition are by artists who identify as queer; some are by artists who lived in times when such identification was not possible; and some works are not by a queer artist but have a connection to queer histories.

The exhibition will also identify and negotiate absences in the NGV Collection, by excavating queer history where it has been omitted or eclipsed, through oversight or through intent. In this way, rather than attempting to present a comprehensive history of queer art, the exhibition will reflect on the gaps, strengths and idiosyncrasies of the NGV Collection, as well as broader concerns around collecting and exhibiting art works relating to queer ideas and identities in museum contexts.

Galley director Tony Ellwood said the exhibition was a major undertaking.

“Never has a queer thematic exhibition of this scale and nuance been staged in an Australian art institution. Queer shines a light on the NGV Collection to examine and reveal the queer stories that the artworks have to tell. Drawing on a broad selection of beloved and lesser-known artworks, this exhibition will present audiences with the opportunity to interpret queer concepts and stories in surprising and thought-provoking ways.” Ellwood said.

In keeping with the breadth and complexity of its subject, Queer is being curated by an interdepartmental curatorial team including Dr Ted Gott, Senior Curator of International Art, Dr Angela Hesson, Curator of Australian Art, Myles Russell-Cook, Curator of Indigenous Art, Meg Slater, Assistant Curator of International Exhibition Projects and Pip Wallis, Curator of Contemporary Art.

Queer will run 10 December 2021 to June 2022 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Free entry. Further information is available via the NGV website.

Source: Media Release


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