An Exhibit on Queer/Disability History, Activism, and Culture
Opening: 1st September 2022
Duration: 2.9.2022 –30.1.2023
“Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer” is the first international exhibit to explore the multiple historical, cultural, and political intersections of queerness and disability. The exhibition counters the fantasy of “the ideal body” with artworks by over 20 international contemporary artists. By juxtaposing historical objects with contemporary drawings, paintings, photographs, mixed media installations, performance videos, and audio works, curators Birgit Bosold, Kate Brehme, and Kenny Fries highlight how queer/disabled artists reclaim the historical narrative with agency and pride.
According to disability studies scholar Carrie Sandahl, who coined the phrase of the exhibition’s title, sexual minorities and people with disabilities share a history of injustice: “Both have been pathologized by medicine; demonized by religion; discriminated against in housing, employment, and education; stereotyped in representation; victimized by hate groups; and isolated socially, often in their families of origin.”
At the heart of the exhibition are some works expressly commissioned like Berlin-based Deaf performer/choreographer Rita Mazza‘s new video “Space 1880” inspired by the 1880 Milan Congress on Deaf Education that banned sign language; or Riva Lehrer’s Zoom portrait drawing of German queer/disabled artist and activist Steven Solbrig, whose photographs are also included in the show. Elizabeth Sweeney presents her three-part installation “The Unrelenting” which includes the hanging of a black triangle outside the museum. Formerly used by the Nazis to label, shame, and persecute a large and diverse group of people, Sweeney’s triangle intends to mark both a taking up and a taking back of space around the Schwules Museum. Also dealing with the persecution by the Nazis are the “sterilization drawings” by Wilhelm Werner from the Prinzhorn collection and letters of Hans Heinrich Festersen, a queer/disabled man executed at Plötzensee prison in 1943. Another section of the exhibit showcases queer/disabled artist icons Lorenza Böttner, Raimund Hoghe, and Audre Lorde.
The exhibition is to a large degree curated by queers and people with disabilities; the contemporary artists exhibited largely self-identify as disabled and queer. Sandahl points out, “Those who claim both identities may be best positioned to illuminate their connections, to pinpoint where queerness and ‘cripdom’ intersect, separate and coincide.”
With audio guide, a German Sign Language video guide, texts in German, English and in German easy language, tactile models, a tactile floor guidance system, transcriptions of audio works and German and English subtitles of video works, the exhibition enables all visitors to experience the exhibition as accessibly as possible. Furthermore, the Schwules Museum will use the barrier-free museum entrance for all visitors starting with the opening of “Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer”.
The exhibition “Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer” is a cooperation with the performance festival at Sophiensæle from 09.–17 September. The premiere of “Butching Cowboys” by Anajara Amarante and three guest performances by Pelenakeke Brown, Quiplash, and Sindri Runudde bring together international works by queer disabled artists for the first time in Germany. Other works by these artists can also be seen in the exhibition at the Schwules Museum.
„Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer: An Exhibit on Queer/Disability History, Activism, and Culture” (02.09.2022–30.01.2023)
Opening: Thursday, 1st September 2022, 7 PM
Press tour with curator Kenny Fries in English: Thursday, 1st September 2022, 11 AM
Curated by: Birgit Bosold, Kate Brehme, Kenny Fries
Supported by Aktion Mensch, Senate Department for Culture and Europe and Canada Council for the Arts.
In cooperation with performance festival „Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer“ at Sophiensæle from 09.-17. September.
In cooperation with Prinzhorn Collection, Heidelberg University Hospital.
These photos are to be used for press purposes only, with complete credits as shown here.