Notes on InterseXions

“InterseXions: Queer Visual Culture at the Crossroads,” held last November 12 and 13 at the
Graduate Center of the City University of New York in mid-Manhattan, brought together 150+
participants from as far away as Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest in the U.S.,
Toronto and Montreal in Canada, and England, Poland, and Austria in Europe for a far-flung look at the
current state of queer visual culture and its study in a number of countries around the world. The topics
addressed in the fourteen panel sessions and two films screened were diverse; among them: queer
aspects of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art; AIDS and queer visual art; old and new media in
contemporary lesbian art; race, ethnicity, and geography in queer art; queering art and art history in
the classroom; alternative archival resources; queer art from the perspective of “age 30 something”
artists; and documentary tributes to New Mexico queer artist Delmas Howe and French lesbian selfphotographer
and World War II anti-Nazi queer resistance fighter Claude Cahun.
For me, one of the most telling elements of this event was the participation
by individuals and groups ranging from academics to working artists,
curators, directors of arts organizations, and even magazine publishers. People
like Amy Sadao, Executive Editor of Visual AIDS, David Waggoner, Publisher and
Editor-in-Chief of A&U magazine (a monthly publication whose focus is the AIDS
crisis in all its aspects which since its inception has run a section in each issue on
AIDS and the visual arts), or Charles Leslie, founder of Leslie-Lohman Gay Art
Foundation (LLGAF) (also a conference sponsor) offered perspectives on queer
visual art outside academia that in my opinion can only enrich its study. And the
participation by people of all ages and diverse geographical areas shows just
how vital queer visual art is today and will remain in the future.
Here are some comments on the conference I’ve received by phone and
email from a few participants:
• Charles Leslie: “The conference opened my eyes to a few manifestations of queer art which,
really, had not even occurred to me before. One session was dedicated to a discussion of
transgender issues, in this case specifically transitions from female to male. What was
remarkable to me was the wonderful quality of the art work that many of these people
showed. It opened a window for me.”
• David Waggoner: “On the positive side, I’m glad issues around AIDS and the visual arts were
covered. On the negative side, the conference seemed very white and middle-class. Was there
any special outreach to make ethnic and racial minorities feel welcome?”
• Harmony Hammond (New Mexico-based artist and teacher): “I had such a response to my
call for ‘age 30 something’ artists that I had to coordinate and moderate not one but two
panels. They went exceedingly well, and fulfilled my purpose in doing them.”
Harmony then quoted from some of the emails she received from the young people on her panels:
• “…Often these conferences seem to privilege textual analysis over artistic production. It was
nice to hear artists talking about their work as a creative, intellectual process.” (Jenny Rogers)
• “…I was amazed at how the conference sessions evolved into a network of artists where folks
are now exchanging information about opportunities and resources and sharing work for
presentation to each other’s students and colleagues.” (Jess Dobkin)
• “I just wanted to thank you again for putting the panel together and for including us in the
discourse. It was a memorable experience for me and I have, as a result, many new friends.”
(Angie Piehl)
People, in other words, were engaged by the conference.
Following up on David Waggoner’s question, there was participation at InterseXions by African
Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans. But why not at some future conference devote
panels to the history of queer visual art in those communities or to work being done within them
today? Or to the history of queer visual art in Latin America, Africa, and Asia and the work being done
there today?
In short, InterseXions was an exciting place to be last mid-November, and hinted at the exciting
possibilities for future conferences on queer visual art. Scheduled as it was after a national election in
the U.S. whose results were at best
disturbing in terms of the outlook for queer
people in this country, it was both a tribute
to the state of contemporary queer visual
art and its study and a reaffirmation of
their future.

Lester Strong is a writer on the arts for various
publications, among them A&U, Out, and
The Gay & Lesbian Review. He moderated
the panel “AIDS and Queer Art.”

CLAGS would like to
recognize Jim Saslow,
Susan Aberth and all of the
conference committee
members for their hard
work in organizing
InterseXions. Co-sponsors
for the conference included:
The Queer Caucus for Art,
the Ph.D. Program in Art
History at the CUNY
Graduate Center, The
Leslie-Lohman Gay Art
Foundation, and Steven J.
Goldstein, M.D.