QUEER: STORIES FROM THE NGV COLLECTION
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
March 10 – August 22, 2022
“Queer” as a concept runs against all definitions, all fixed meaning, forever questioning, redeploying, twisting terms, texts, and itself from conventional usage. – Christoph Ribbat, Professor of American Studies at the Universität Paderborn in Germany, and author of ‘Queer and Straight Photography’, published in the journal ‘Amerikastudien‘, 2001.
QUEER: Stories from the NGV Collection is a landmark exhibition that will explore the NGV Collection through a queer lens and celebrate the rich, diverse and sometimes untold stories that emerge. Spanning five gallery spaces and featuring around 400 artworks traversing timelines and geographies, the exhibition will be the most historically expansive thematic presentation of artworks relating to queer stories ever mounted in an Australian art institution.
Bringing together a breadth of artworks from antiquity to the present day, the exhibition will illuminate the ways in which queer lives and stories have been expressed in art throughout history. Drawing on contemporary research, interpretation, and analysis, the exhibition will also explore the narratives that might not have been visible in the past due to suppression, prejudice, or discrimination.
The exhibition will be curated across more than ten thematic sections that explore a variety of historical and contemporary subject matter, including activism and protest, love and desire, community and connection, text and performance, discrimination and loss, and more. The works on display span many media, including painting, drawing, photography, decorative arts, fashion, textiles, video, sculpture, design, and architecture.
The artworks in the exhibition reflect the multifaceted meaning and usage of the word ‘queer‘: as an expression of sexuality and gender, as a philosophy, as a political movement, as a sensibility, as an attitude that defies fixed definition, as well as the impossibility of a single term to capture the multitude of lived experiences. Many of the artworks included in the exhibition are by artists who identify as queer; some are by artists who lived in times when such identification was not possible; and some works are not by a queer artist but have a connection to queer histories.
The exhibition will also identify and negotiate absences in the NGV Collection, by excavating queer history where it has been omitted or eclipsed, through oversight or through intent. In this way, rather than attempting to present a comprehensive history of queer art, the exhibition will reflect on the gaps, strengths and idiosyncrasies of the NGV Collection, as well as broader concerns around collecting and exhibiting art works relating to queer ideas and identities in museum contexts.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV, said: ‘Never has a queer thematic exhibition of this scale and nuance been staged in an Australian art institution. QUEER: Stories from the NGV Collection shine a light on the NGV Collection to examine and reveal the queer stories that the artworks have to tell. Drawing on a broad selection of beloved and lesser-known artworks, this exhibition will present audiences with the opportunity to interpret queer concepts and stories in surprising and thought-provoking ways.’
Naysla Edwards, Vice President of Brand, Charge Cards and Experience, American Express states: ‘At American Express we see the diversity of people and experiences as fuel for creativity and innovation. It is therefore with enormous pride that we take our place as Principal Partner of QUEER: Stories from the NGV Collection at the National Gallery of Victoria. We encourage everyone to experience this truly extraordinary display and to rejoice in the beauty of individual expression through the ages.’
In keeping with the breadth and complexity of its subject, QUEER: Stories from the NGV Collection is being curated by an interdepartmental curatorial team including Dr Ted Gott, Senior Curator of International Art; Dr Angela Hesson, Curator of Australian Art; Myles Russell-Cook, Senior Curator of Indigenous Art; Meg Slater, Assistant Curator of International Exhibition Projects; and Pip Wallis, Curator of Contemporary Art.