Queerness in Photography at C/O Berlin

From September 17, 2022, to January 18, 2023, C/O Berlin presents the three-part exhibition „Queerness in Photography“. If you are or visit Berlin do not miss it.

For people who never heard of C/O Berlin, is one of the most respected institutions and exhibition spaces in photography art hosted in a refurbished old post office near the legendary Zoologischer Garten train station. A nice bookshop and a cute coffee house make the space a nice place where to spend some time in Berlin. Not to mention they have a photobooth which is an original black and white classical 80s. So you can get your photo in a nice classic silver print.

The three exhibitions on view now, „Queerness in Photography“ reveal a multifaceted panorama and show that photography can also be an act of liberation and self-empowerment. By visualizing one’s own identity or by documenting the collective cohesion in the queer community, new artistic forms of representation emerge.

„Under Cover. A Secret History of Cross-Dressers. Sébastien Lifshitz Collection is a part of the collection of amateur photographs compiled by French filmmaker Sébastien Lifshitz over several decades. Divided into several chapters, the Lifshitz Collection not only spans 120 years of queer forms of representation but also locates worldwide phenomena such as cross-dressing in terms of cultural history in the performing arts such as theatre or cabaret.

Anonymous, Untitled, USA, ca. 1930. Sébastien Lifshitz Collection

„Casa Susanna. The Cindy Sherman Collection“, probably the most famous disguise artist in the world, presents original images of Casa Susanna from her own collection. “I found the Casa Susanna photos in a scrapbook that was sold at an antique flea market in New York City about 17 years ago. The scrapbook itself wasn’t worth saving, but I was blown away by the photos,” Sherman said of her historic discovery. Casa Susanna was a safe space for cross-dressers and trans women in Hunter, New York in the 1950s and 1960s. Within this small community, members were able to explore their identities together – at a time when life plans, Sexuality, and gender were stigmatized or even prosecuted outside of heteronormative ideas and conventions.

Image from Casa Susanna. Courtesy Cindy Sherman Collection.

„Orlando. Curated by Tilda Swinton“ is as fascinating as the actress herself. In 1992, actress Tilda Swinton played the gender-nonconforming lead in the award-winning film Orlando (directed by Sally Potter), based on the 1928 novel of the same name by Virginia Woolf. Woolf’s novel tells the story of a young noble person who lives for centuries. Gender fluidity and the idea of a boundless consciousness interweave here in a new way within the exhibition. Swinton put together the Orlando exhibition for C/O Berlin on behalf of Aperture magazine.

Sally Potter, from Orlando Photo Album, spring 1988 © Sally Potter Courtesy the artist and Bridget Donahue, New York.

Jamal Nxedlana, FAKA Portrait, Johannesburg, 2019 © Jamal Nxedlana

One of the best exhibitions put together by C/O in years. And I saw good exhibitions there. Not all, but a fair share. The visual reflection of human existence in all its diversity is at the same time an inspiring plea for impartiality, empathy, and tolerance in contemporary artistic photography.

An article by Manuel Gonzales, Berlin.


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