YouTube is not just a repository for animal videos (although, in all honesty, I find those emotionally uplifting and worthwhile). It's also one of the primary, already existing visual archives of queer and trans culture. Because of violence and marginalization, so many of our ancestors didn't have access to the institutions that make creative work permanent or longstanding, be that publication or preservation. But, throughout the last half-century, people have documented their friends, lovers and communities performing, talking, simply existing.
In Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1929, an ambitious project tried to articulate some answers to the ‘woman question’ that modernism could not resolve. Civilized Woman was both an exhibition and a book, in which a group of avant-garde designers proposed a radical new wardrobe based on functionalist trouser suits and short hair. Civilized Woman compiled practical outfits for work, leisure and pregnancy, and placed women in rationalized domestic environments like the ‘Frankfurt Kitchen’ designed by Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. But other than chopping off long hair and keeping house more efficiently, Civilized Woman had little to offer in the way of emancipation.
Sturm-Frauen, an exhibition at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt this winter, was a mind-blowing show of female artists working in Berlin between 1910 and 1932. I frantically snapped pix on my phone the whole way through the show. The must-have catalogue was sold out at the museum, but may still be available from the publisher. Above all, I was stunned by the work of artist Lavinia Schulz. Schulz was a wildly talented performance artist, the Mike Kelley of her time. She was so far ahead of the curve that she could barely live in her time, plagued perpetually by poverty and misunderstanding, but an artist of total brilliance and scope.
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