Every lesbian is worthy of inclusion in history. If you have the courage to touch another woman, then you are a very famous person.

— Joan Nestle

The ‘archival impulse’ in contemporary art and visual culture is an artistic strategy involving a turn towards the past. In the case of lesbian and queer lives, this impulse becomes an “anamnesia” or “unforgetting”, more than a remembering. A lesbian orientation (to the past) is weighed down by historical erasure and invisibility.

Image credit: Azadeh Hamzeii

As I watch artist Azadeh Hamzeii’s video, Lytton’s Kumain (2020), on a laptop screen at the back of a musty bar, I am reminded of listening to poetry and in its wake leaving with one or two words — sentences if I’m lucky — drifting inside me like dust in a beam of light. Instead of words I have imagery, traces of moving image condensed into inner stills, little airborne particles not yet ready for landing.

For instance, the pair of brown eyes slowly pulling themselves up off the ground, coming to rest directly at the viewer like a tired…

Image credit: Erin Dunne

I’m meandering along the meanjin (fka Brisbane) river on my way home from Erin Dunne’s artist talk and exhibition Drawn Together (2020), an impressive yet understated offering to queer visibility in its rural, central Queensland milieu.

The panoramic drawings of the intimate and the everyday are vividly rendered, a photo-realism that has left me hyper-present to my surroundings: a statuesque water dragon regards me knowingly, a pedestrian walks past me reading a novel, chewing gum clings to an electricity pole. I’m a queer in the metropolosis whose heart has been flung into the countryside.

In this body of work, Dunne…

Hossein Valamanesh, Conversations (2018), existing seats, persian carpet, dimensions variable, Sculpture Encounters, Granite Island.

The art of Hossein Valamanesh is remarkably universal in its resonance and exploration of the human condition. At the same time, his work engages with the specificities and complexities of being an Iranian migrant in an Australian context. The artist collapses the opposition between art and life through the aesthetic languages of sentimentality, mysticism and poetry. There is a sense in which the artist’s work cannot be neatly categorised and operates outside the confines of the art historical canon. Sufi mysticism infuses the artist’s work, in which paradox and an ethic of love are central. By reading the artist’s works…

Clare O'Callaghan

cute queer writing about art

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