by Sukanya GargMay 12, 2020
Kiss My Genders, a group exhibition celebrating more than 30 international artists whose work explores and engages with gender identity, is on display at the Hayward Gallery, London, from June 12, 2019 to September 8, 2019.
Spanning the past 50 years, the exhibition brings together over 100 artworks by different generations of artists from around the world. Employing a wide range of approaches, these artists share an interest in articulating and engaging with gender fluidity, as well as with non-binary, trans and intersex identities.
While the artists in Kiss My Genders work across a wide variety of media – including installation, video, painting, sculpture and wall drawings – the exhibition places a particular emphasis on works that revisit the tradition of photographic portraiture. A number of artists in the exhibition treat the body itself as sculpture, and in doing so open up new possibilities for gender, beauty and representations of the human form. Participating artists include: Ajamu, Travis Alabanza, Amrou Al-Kadhi and Holly Falconer, Lyle Ashton Harris, Sadie Benning, Nayland Blake, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, Flo Brooks, Luciano Castelli, Jimmy DeSana, Jes Fan, Chitra Ganesh, Martine Gutierrez, Nicholas Hlobo, Peter Hujar, Juliana Huxtable, Joan Jett Blakk, Tarek Lakhrissi, Zoe Leonard, Ad Minoliti, Pierre Molinier, Kent Monkman, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Planningtorock, Christina Quarles, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Hunter Reynolds, Athi-Patra Ruga, Tejal Shah, Victoria Sin, Jenkin van Zyl, and Del LaGrace Volcano.
This massive exhibition plays host to a number of artists who explore gender expression through performance, drag and masquerade. These include Ajamu, a London-based visual activist whose work challenges conventional understanding of sexuality, desire, pleasure and cultural production within contemporary Britain; Brooklyn-based performance artist Martine Gutierrez, who characterises identity as something ‘alien or unfamiliar’ in her ambitious photographic series Masking and Demons (both 2018); and Amrou Al-Kadhi, a British-Iraqi writer, drag performer and filmmaker, who in collaboration with British photographer Holly Falconer, created a photographic portrait Glamrou (2016) using triple exposure to communicate the experience of being in drag as a person of Muslim heritage.
In addition, many of the artworks in this exhibition address the broader social and political questions and contexts that intersect with gender identity.
Kiss My Genders features a number of new works and site-specific commissions. In the upper galleries, Jenkin van Zyl, the youngest artist in the exhibition, presents a new, expanded video work, Looners (2019), while Brooklyn-based visual artist Chitra Ganesh whose work deals with representations of femininity, sexuality and power, creates a site-specific wall drawing.
Taking place across the entire Hayward Gallery, Kiss My Genders also extends beyond the gallery walls, with two new commissions that transform the elements of the Southbank Centre site.
Ad Minoliti, an Argentinian artist who uses brightly coloured geometric designs to represent a trans-human utopia, designs Southbank Centre’s Riverside Stage, while a series of flags designed by Minoliti adorn the roof of the Royal Festival Hall. Elsewhere on the site, South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga transforms the windows of Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery foyer into a striking display of ‘stained glass’ featuring avatars designed by the artist, and a poem by Tarek Lakhrissi – Glory – greets visitors as they approach the stairs leading to Southbank Centre’s Mandela Walk.
The exhibition’s title is taken from the song Transome by Bolton-born, Berlin-based singer-songwriter, Planningtorock, who will also perform as part of the exhibition’s public programme.