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Queer Visibility

The artists shown here work with queer histories and visual culture to make lives that have been hidden or suppressed visible. These approaches are as varied as individual queer experiences, often disrupting readers’ expectations of the physical book form to play against heteronormative preconceptions about their content. 

Ladies First

Keith Smith
Ladies First
Rochester, N.Y.: Visual Studies Workshop Press, [2016]

Keith Smith has been queering the book for decades, both through his innovations on book form and his imagery. Ladies First playfully layers staid, historical portraits of women with contemporary, often erotic photos of men. The resulting ambiguity, “references both the practice of exclusively using male models for female subjects until the 19th C as well as our more recent recognition of those of us who are transgender.” (Quotation from the publisher’s website.)

UNC Library Catalog:

Jack Pierson
Tomorrow's Man
North Vancouver, BC: Presentation House Gallery; Toronto, ON: Bywater Bros. Editions, 2013

In this series of artists’ books, Pierson combines found imagery with work by other current artists and writers, celebrating visual culture around male beauty and masculinity from more than half a century. “The title, Tomorrow’s Man, comes from an infamous bodybuilding magazine from the 1950s and ‘60s. Reappropriating the publication’s title as well as its retro bodybuilding aesthetic, Pierson takes viewers on a dizzying visual journey.” (Quotation from the publisher’s website.)

UNC Library Catalog:

Zoe Leonard & Cheryl Dunye
Fae Richards Photo Archive
San Francisco: Artspace Books, c1996

Released to accompany Cheryl Dunye’s landmark film The Watermelon Woman – about a young Black lesbian director researching an uncredited actress from a 1930s movie -- The Fae Richards Photo Archive presents a fictitious but convincing scrapbook of photos detailing the life of the title character. As well as showing the evolution of Richards’ career, tender snapshots capture her home life with longtime partner, June Walker.

UNC Library Catalog: