Ten’s To See: ‘Kiss My Genders’ at the Hayward Gallery
Juliana Huxtable ‘Untitled (Lil’ Marvel)’ (2015)
As pride months comes to a close, the city becomes considerably less colourful. The flags are tucked away until next year, and the big corporations switch their rainbow-hued Twitter icons back to their plain old logos – it’s time we focus on the bigger picture. Cramming wide-spread, mainstream queer recognition into 31 days is frankly unreasonable – and that’s putting it lightly. A few Primark pride window displays and a UK version of RuPaul’s Drag Race can’t satisfy the need for widespread LGBTQIA+ representation – queer pride needs to extend beyond flags, t-shirts and reusable water bottles.
Kiss My Genders at the Hayward Gallery is an exhibition that isn’t held back by binaries. It’s an exceptional exploration of diverse queerness, with transgender and gender-fluid identities at the forefront. Thirty artists pulled from all corners of the globe have contributed to a multi-disciplinary show that celebrates transformations of all shapes and forms. 100 individual artworks spanning over the last 15 years represent all the beauty kept in gender’s complexities. Intimate nude photographs courtesy of Ajamu sit alongside essays by Susan Stryker and Ad Minoliti’s study into “trans-human utopia” via technicolored geometric patterns.
There’s plenty of queer activities taking place outside of the exhibition too, all summer long. Fashion’s favourite couturier, Jean–Paul Gaultier is putting on a rather scandalous rendition of his Fashion Freak Show cabaret which is set to be gayer than Eurovision. Looking for a cheap night out to remember? Queer collective Pxssy Palace is set to bring their high-energy, voguing the house down club nights to a one night stint at the Riverside Terrace – and it’s absolutely free.
Though the exhibition, for the most part, emits an overall level of celebration – parts are struck with tragedy. One particular piece, The Memorial Dress by Hunter Reynolds, created back in 1993, sees a black ball gown printed with the names of 25,000 people who have tragically died of AIDS-related illnesses. A collection of disturbing photographs captured by Zanele Muholi highlights the intense violence and discrimination of South Africa’s queer communities still have to face. With pride months taking place internationally, the rainbow flags on display across the globe can haze our vision into believing queerness is excepted worldwide. Kiss My Genders is as multifaceted as the queer community itself – it’s raw, nonconforming and not one to be missed.
Kiss My Genders is open at the Hayward Gallery until September 8, with multiple queer-focused events taking place all summer long at the Southbank Centre.