We’ve collated five things you need to know about Hayward Gallery’s 2019 summer exhibition Kiss My Genders.
Kiss My Genders brings together over 100 artworks by more than 30 artists from all over the world, all of whom approach gender not as a fixed set of categories, but rather as something to be challenged, reconsidered and in some cases rejected altogether. Many but not all of the artists in this exhibition identify as gender non-binary and make use of the gender-neutral pronoun, they.
As well as addressing gender identity, many of the artworks in Kiss My Genders also touch on or explore subjects that include national and cultural identity, ethnicity and religious beliefs. Kent Monkman’s large-scale paintings feature his alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, a character invented as a way to ‘reverse the colonial gaze’; artist and AIDS activist Hunter Reynolds uses art as a tool to process trauma as well as transform it in his installation The Memorial Dress (1993); while Amrou Al-Kadhi explores the experience of being in drag as a person of Muslim heritage in their portrait Glamrou (2016) – the result of a collaboration with photographer Holly Falconer.
In approach as well as subject matter Kiss My Genders is characterised by multiplicity. While some of the artists in this exhibition – including Peter Hujar, Catherine Opie and Del LaGrace Volcano – make use of and subvert the tradition of photographic portraiture, others present hybrid artworks that defy categorisation, or make use of unconventional materials such as pharmaceutical testosterone, estrogen and melanin.
Some of the artworks in Kiss My Genders have been developed specifically for this exhibition. Among them are Jenkin van Zyl’s new video installation, Looners (2019); At Her Dream’s Edge (2019) by Chitra Ganesh, a site-specific installation that explores femininity, sexuality and power and features transgressive bodies inspired by mythology and science fiction; and Victoria Sin’s A View from Elsewhere, Act 1, She Postures in Context (2019), a ‘multimedia fantasy’ exploring ‘desire, shame and the material queer body.’
For Kiss My Genders, the poster for drag queen Joan Jett Blakk’s 1992-presidential campaign has been fly-posted across one of the exterior walls; Athi-Patra Ruga has transformed the windows of Queen Elizabeth Hall with a vinyl artwork that resembles stained glass; Ad Minoliti’s colourful, abstract designs can be seen on bollards, flags, windsocks across the Southbank Centre site as part of her site-wide installation Playcentre (2019); and a poem by artist and writer Tarek Lakhrissi – ‘Glory’ – adorns the steps of Southbank Centre’s Mandela Walkway.
Kiss My Genders was at Hayward Gallery, 12 June – 8 September 2019.
From internationally acclaimed artists at Hayward Gallery, to pop-up installations, showcases and immersive experiences, an engaging and inspiring array of art and exhibitions can be found across Southbank Centre.
Header image: Installation view of Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery, courtesy of Hayward Gallery 2019. Photo: Thierry Bal