A Lavender Menace comes to Art Exchange

  • Date

    Wed 10 Apr 24

"Lavender Menace: the language of queer feminism, 26 April 24 > 31 May 24" - stylised wording on a lavender background.

A new exhibition curated by MA Curating students will explore feminist activism and queer sexuality through written language in contemporary art.

Opening on 26 April with a launch party in Art Exchange on 25 April, Lavender Menace will exhibit the work of seven contemporary artists whose work uses language to present expressions of identity and activism.

With supporting archival material loaned from the Bishopsgate Institute and the University of Essex’s Special Collections, the exhibition takes a historical look at manifestations of queer sexuality through language and places this in contrast to the contemporary works on display.

Speaking about the curatorial process for their degree show, the MA Curating students elaborated on their decision to use archival material: “In choosing the artworks and archival material for Lavender Menace, we have tried to demonstrate the historical continuity in how the queer feminist community has used the written word to express their identity and participate in activism.”

The archival material featured in the exhibition will present media representations of queerness throughout history to establish a dialogue with the contemporary works on display and offer a comparison of the language of queer sexuality.

A Lavender Menace comes to Art Exchange

Sarah-Joy Ford's 'Dykes for Trans Rights' (2021), courtesy of Klein Imaging.

The eight strong student curatorial team are hopeful of delivering a thought-provoking show: “Queer feminist contemporary art continues to be influenced by activist media such as protest banners, posters, and self-published zines. We hope that presenting these materials alongside the archival material will educate and inform audiences about queer history and art, in an inclusive, visually appealing exhibition.”

The exhibition will feature artworks and objects from seven queer contemporary artists who use typography to explore activism and sexuality, often in unexpected, confrontational, and humorous ways. 

Artwork choices for Lavender Menace shy away from more traditional mediums such as paint on canvas pieces as the curators seek to expose more contemporary media, such as zines, textiles, and mosaics.

Queer artist Helen Maguire, who’s works A Mullet, a Carabiner, and a Pulse (2022) and Lesbian Molotov (2023) feature in Lavender Menace, said of the exhibition theme: “Queerness is the breathing room to explore ways of being, beyond norms and binaries; it provides an alternative framework for delving into feminism’s deep rooted and necessary contradictions.”

“It’s messy: boundaries are permeable, expectations are subverted and then subverted again. Radical queerness seeks to prove that existence does not fit into the neat categories we like to convince ourselves it does.”

Art historian and curator, Dr Gavin Grindon, who taught the students said: “The students have produced a thoughtful and critically engaged show which touches on many contemporary issues, taking a novel approach in bringing today’s debates into conversation with historical struggles and controversies.”

Lavender Menace: The Language of Queer Feminism will open in Art Exchange on Friday 26 April and run until Friday 31 May, with a Launch Party on 25 April, 6pm to 8pm.

The exhibition will feature a public programme which will include:

  • A zoom talk from Laura Love about trans archives - Thursday 2 May, 3pm to 4pm
  • Lunchtime curators’ tour and Q&A - Thursday 9 May, 12pm to 1pm
  • Artists’ conversation with Helen Maguire and E. L. West, celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia - Friday 17 May, 6pm to 8pm
  • Saturday curators’ tour - Saturday 18 May, 12pm to 1pm
  • Zoom talk from Kialy Tihngang (and other artist TBC) - Thursday 23 May, 6pm to 8pm

Featuring artwork by Mirta Cerioli, Sarah-Joy Ford, Caroline Glover, Helen Maguire, Liberty Antonia Sadler, Anna Sampson, and E. L. West, and archival materials loaned from the Bishopsgate Institute and University of Essex Special Collections. 

Curated by Ruby Bowd, Ieva Cebatoriute, Yuwan Cao, Yutang Chang, Jou-han Chen, Tilly Hawkins, Hiromi Horiuchi, and Emma Stanley (MA Curating 2024).