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Through the exhibition with // Johanna Jackie Baier: "Queerness in Photography", C/O Berlin



What happens when two photography enthusiasts with different focuses and preferences visit an exhibition, exchange ideas about it and share it with others via an Insta Livestream?

On November 23rd, Johanna Jackie Baier (DFA) visited the exhibitions "Queerness in Photography" at C/O Berlin with Boris Eldagsen (DFA). Both streamed this visit live on Instagram - so that Alexander Hagmann (dieMotive) and everyone watching could discuss the exhibitions with the two. We talked about the definition of queer, the possible audiences of the exhibition, and whether a collection that promotes acceptance can itself discriminate (consciously or unconsciously). Link Jackie mentioned in the Talk: Aaron Lister on "Women in the Window":

Watch the recording on Instagram:

Watch the recording on YouTube:

About the exhibitions:

  • In three complementary exhibitions, C/O Berlin's "Queerness in Photography" explores photographic representations of identity, gender, and sexuality: from historical imagery that shows the act of photographing as an act of identity, to a unique safe space, to contemporary expressions of gender fluidity that raise the question of whether socially constructed genders are even contemporary today. The three exhibitions reveal a multi-layered panorama and show that photography can also be an act of liberation and self-empowerment. By visualizing one's own identity or documenting communal cohesion in the queer community, new artistic forms of representation emerge.

  • UNDER COVER . A SECRET HISTORY OF CROSS-DRESSERS | SÉBASTIEN LIFSHITZ COLLECTION: The collection of French filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz features amateur photographs collected over several decades. Since the 1860s, people have used the medium to question their gender identity ascribed by clothing or physical features and to explore themselves in front of the camera.Without knowing the respective genesis stories or personal motivations, these portrayals reveal the sitter's desire to explore themselves in front of the camera: in addition to rebelling against imposed, social expectations and political regulations, they make themselves aware of their own identity in the photographically produced self-portrait. The visual evidence of the Lifshitz Collection is thus one of the more significant discoveries in recent photographic history, filling a void in cultural memory. The exhibition was produced by Les Rencontres d'Arles.

  • CASA SUSANNA | CINDY SHERMAN COLLECTION: In the exhibition, arguably the world's most famous dress-up artist presents her collection of original images from Casa Susanna - a safe space for cross-dresser:ins and trans women in the 1950s and 1960s in Hunter, New York. Within this small community, members were able to explore their identities together - at a time when lifestyles, sexuality, and gender outside of heteronormative ideas and conventions were stigmatized or even prosecuted. The act of taking photographs within this community was of the highest social explosiveness, as the members visually documented what was not allowed to be at that time: a life outside of socially constructed gender roles as well as a personality development based on one's own needs. The imagery of Casa Susanna not only reveals the cohesion and solidarity within this community, but also a lightheartedness and cheerfulness inscribed in the images, which came into being precisely because people were able to freely develop there. 

  • ORLANDO | CURATED BY TILDA SWINTON: In 1992, actress Tilda Swinton played the gender-nonconforming lead in the award-winning film Orlando (directed by Sally Potter), based on Virginia Woolf's 1928 novel of the same name. Behind the foil of the book and film, Swinton has been commissioned by Aperture magazine for C/O Berlin to create the exhibition Orlando . Curated by Tilda Swinton. Gender fluidity and the idea of a borderless consciousness interweave here in a new way within the exhibition. The works, some of which were conceived specifically for the exhibition, present different perspectives on questions of identity, gender, origin, and sexuality. In the diversity of artistic approaches and perspectives, common ideas, forms of representation and power relations are broken up. Through the selection of the artists, their artistic reinterpretation of the themes and the identity-creating construction of new narratives, previously often marginalized or underrepresented points of view are given a stage. The exhibition shows the works of the artists: Zackary Drucker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Jamal Nxedlana, Elle Pérez, Walter Pfeiffer, Sally Potter, Viviane Sassen, Collier Schorr, Mickalene Thomas, and Carmen Winant. The exhibition was organized by Aperture, New York.

Keyimage: Anonymous, Jim, USA, ca. 1950 | Collection Sébastien Lifshitz

About Johanna Jackie Baier:

  • Berlin-based photographer J.Jackie Baier also works as a filmmaker. Premieres of her films at the Berlin and Venice International Film Festivals. Baier has lived as a woman since 1997.

Anonymous, Jim, USA, ca. 1950 © Collection Sébastien Lifshitz

We would like to thank 'KULTUR.GEMEINSCHAFTEN – Förderprogramm für digitale Content-Produktion in Kultureinrichtungen' for their support. This funding project is supported by Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien, NEUSTART KULTUR and Kulturstiftung der Länder.

DFA press materials:

Through the exhibition with // Johanna Jackie Baier: "Queerness in Photography", C/O Berlin

Through the exhibition with // Johanna Jackie Baier: "Queerness in Photography", C/O Berlin

Watch the recording on YouTube:


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