Zoe Leonard, Strange Fruit (for David), 1992-1997

Strange Fruit (for David) was made over the course of five years from the rinds and skin of about three hundred pieces of fruit that the artist and her friends had eaten and then allowed to dry. She “repaired” and adorned the opened seams with colored thread, shiny wires, buttons, and zippers. Leonard explains that the piece developed as a work of mourning after a friend’s death, “a sort of a way to sew myself back up.” She began with two oranges sewn in Provincetown and continued in New York and later in Alaska, where she relied on fruit sent to her by mail.

The quiet, elegiac tone of this piece contrasts with Leonard’s work from the late 1980s, when it was inseparable from her activism on behalf of feminism, gay rights, and the battle against AIDS. A powerful body of impassioned, polemical, and sometimes crudely made art had sprung from the anger and heartbreak of a community ravaged by disease and death. To Leonard, the experience of sewing the fruit seemed to offer the reconciliation of beauty with her stance of political engagement. Installed in the gallery, Strange Fruit has the aura of a graveyard, a gathering of strangers wherein each remains uniquely individualized, a place hospitable to reverie and solace. For as long as it lasts, the presence of the piece in the Museum provides a powerful contemporary example of the venerable tradition of vanitas paintings, meditations on the transience of life that usually portray fruit ready to decay, candles soon to gutter out, or flowers about to fade. Strange Fruit removes art from the fiction of a heroic “forever” and brings us closer to human experience where everything is changing or dying in some way but where beauty and creativity still flourish.

Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 150.

Roberta Almerez, Self Portrait from Between the Lines (1987)

My images in photography are as much about me and the struggle to master my medium, as they are about beauty and the feminine form. Being a lesbian photographing women infuses my work with a distinctive eroticism. It’s also like coming out over and over again. 
Photographing lesbians has been an artistic and personal pleasure. The lesbian women I have known and photographed all have a unique personal image. There is always a directness of gesture and gaze. They are self-aware and it shows. Both I and my subjects work together deeply knowing without saying, that what we do matters. As if to prove to ourselves and others that yes,we do exist, get used to it.

Roberta Almerez, Self Portrait from Between the Lines (1987)

My images in photography are as much about me and the struggle to master my medium, as they are about beauty and the feminine form. Being a lesbian photographing women infuses my work with a distinctive eroticism. It’s also like coming out over and over again.

Photographing lesbians has been an artistic and personal pleasure. The lesbian women I have known and photographed all have a unique personal image. There is always a directness of gesture and gaze. They are self-aware and it shows. Both I and my subjects work together deeply knowing without saying, that what we do matters. As if to prove to ourselves and others that yes,we do exist, get used to it.

queermuseum

A Google Map of Brooklyn’s Lost Queer History

queermuseum:

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“I felt that blush in my chest as we talked stupid talk never quite revealing our queerness to each other but somehow wordlessly generating volumes of desire like some kind of sublanguage that makes you want to splash into it even with all its tensions.” 

― David Wojnarowicz, The Waterfront Journals

A BLUSH IN A CHEST

You wouldn’t know it from most history books, but Brooklyn’s queer history is just as rich and colorful as Manhattan’s. But perhaps because it was working class, Brooklyn hasn’t always gotten the same respect. Until now.

For the Pop-Up Museum’s “On the (Queer) Waterfront” exhibit, artist and historian Sarah G. Sharp took to Google Maps to create an interactive digital tour of some of Brooklyn’s most potent queer historical sites — from the WWII lesbian ship yards and the cruising grounds of Vinegar Hill to the place where Leaves of Grass was printed, and where ACT UP demonstrators closed the Brooklyn Bridge. If you thought New York gay history was all Stonewall and Broadway, it’s time to take a stroll. 


View A Blush in the Chest: Queer Poets, Workers, Radical and Freaks in a larger map

Sharp hopes to open the map to contributors, not just to mark the headline grabbing stories or protests and poets, but the “soft histories” of the way gay life was lived by private citizens.

(You might also want to pair it with The Impalpable Sustenance, a 40 minute “audio excursion” in and around the Brooklyn Promenade created by Teamworks Unlimited.)

We hope that the map— like this spring’s Google Map of the Lost Gay Bars of San Francisco — will inspire others to begin mapping their own neighborhoods, so this crucial history won’t be lost.

Mike 

ABOUT SARAH G. SHARP

Sarah G. Sharp is an artist with a research-based practice whose interests include alternative social histories, language, place, intuitive processes and craft. She is the recipient of a Getty Library Research  Grant and a BRIC Arts Media Fellowship. Exhibitions include The Aldrich Museum, CT, The Hampden Gallery at UMass Amherst, Frederieke Taylor Gallery and Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, NY. Sarah is the co-founder of Cohort artist’s collective. She holds an MFA and an MA from Purchase College and is faculty in the Art Practice MFA Program at School of Visual Arts in New York. Sarah lives and works in Brooklyn. www.sarahgsharp.net.