Lovers and Warriors - Aural / Photographic Collaborations
Susan Stewart
October 2 — October 30, 1993

Since early 1991 I have been producing a body of work which consists of seven 16×20” black and white photographs, which are in series of two to six images and an audio track. The exhibit is titled Lovers and Warriors: aural/photographic collaborations.

The title of the work, Lovers and Warriors, refers to the archetypical meaning of the terms, lover = compassion and warrior = action. Compassionate action is one way of describing the generosity of the subjects of this work who have participated in self representation for public view. The context within which these representations are framed identifies these women as belonging to a stigmatized and oppressed minority; as queers. In offering their images to the world, these women exhibit tremendous courage.

The sound component of the installation is a taped recording of the subjects of the photographs, speaking in their own voices about a variety of issues in their lives. This recording, which is optional for the spectator, allows for a ‘speaking subject’ and encourages a deeper understanding which can move beyond the limitations of the photographic representation. This tape also provides an opportunity for the spectator to engage with personal assumptions that may occur about the women in the images; voyeurism, the spectatorial gaze and the process of representation.

Many of the women in Lovers and Warriors will be exhibiting images of themselves for the first time. For lesbians the mere experience of being ‘seen’ in a context we create and control is a unique and powerful experience. Lesbians constitute a virtually invisible and un-represented minority in our everyday visual landscape. The failure to find lesbian representations in a culture saturated with imagery of women heightens alienation, queer-ness, the overwhelming and suffocating sense of not belonging. It also effectively undermines the possibility of community identification, bonding and political awareness. If we are disallowed the opportunity to ‘see’ each other, and hence find each other, then we are also hampered in our ability to organize and effect political change in our own interests and fight back against heterosexist oppression of our civil and human rights.

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