A first-of-its-kind exhibition at the Whitworth delves into the gallery’s collection to explore how we can use a queer lens to define what the term ‘queer’ means.

(Un)Defining Queer examines same-sex love, desire and gender fluidity across different cultures through a survey of artworks that seeks to redress historic omissions that have existed because of heteronormative museum practice.

Both collection works and loans make up the exhibition, which includes artists Ajamu X, Niki de Saint Phalle, General Idea, David Hockney, Maggi Hambling, Pearl Alcock, Keith Vaughan, Matthew Bamber, Sarah-Joy Ford, Wolfgang Tilmans, Chester Tenneson and Jez Dolan.

Exhibition producer Dominic Bilton has led the development of this exhibition in partnership with Curator (Historic Fine Art) Imogen Holmes-Roe and with support from the LGBT Foundation. Dominic said: “LGBTQIA+ people representation in the art collection, in the gallery, in history and in culture is so important. It shows how they have informed things like printmaking, textiles, and art practice.

“We have an opportunity, through the exhibition and engagement with our LGBTQIA+ communities to amplify and support an often-marginalised group. Traditionally museums and galleries have not engaged with LGBTQIA+ communities, whether that be due to lack of expertise on queer art history, or a lack of capacity and knowledge around how to engage with our queer communities. (Un)Defining Queer , seeks to redress these historic omissions by presenting works, some that have never been on display before, interpreted through a queer lens.”

Centred around key themes that include Queer Gaze, Performativity, Chosen Family, Mythology and Activism, in partnership with the LGBT Foundation, the exhibition seeks to challenge the heteronormative gaze. The space itself will hold moments of activism, from the colour scheme that is used within the exhibition, reclamation of homophobic language to the year-long inclusive engagement programme.

(Un)Defining Queer will run until Sun 3 Dec 2023. For more information, visit the Whitworth website.

Image credit: Ajamu X, Bud Kim, 2018 © the artist, Ajamu Studio

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Fri 27 Jan - Sun 3 Dec, The Whitworth,
Oxford Rd, Manchester M15 6ER
Bradley Lengden
Published on:
Tue 20 Jun 2023