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Framing Lesbians, Fashioning Desire

Wednesday 24 February 2021, 4.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Laura Guy

The artist Tee Corinne once described her collaborations with photographer Honey Lee Cottrell as the pursuit of images that “read as lesbian”. This required negotiating the demands of a community and the dynamics of desire alongside the material conditions of photographic production. This talk turns to the work of Phyllis Christopher who became known for her intimate, erotic portraits of lesbians in San Francisco the 1990s. Christopher’s work reflects a period in which grassroots safe sex initiatives and hard-won combination drug therapies were transforming ideas about sexual practices and politics in the context of the crisis surrounding HIV/AIDS. Christopher used photography to record the activities of her own community. At the same time, with her collaborator Shar Rednour, she constructed scenarios in which lesbian desires could find visual form. This talk will explore the interplay between recording and fashioning that takes place through Christopher’s photographs of lesbian community, considering how practices of consent and censorship resonate between documentary and sexual cultures in this period. 


Laura Guy is a writer, editor and curator based in Glasgow, Scotland. She holds the post of Academic Fellow in Art History at Newcastle University. Her research on feminist and queer visual culture has appeared in various magazines and journals, recently Aperture, Women: A Cultural Review and Third Text (forthcoming). Since completing her PhD at Manchester School of Art in 2016, Guy has collaborated with individuals, community groups and cultural institutions to profile the work of photographers who documented queer lesbian community in the US and UK between the 1970s and 1990s. She is currently working on a related book project. She is editor of Phyllis Christopher: Dark Room, forthcoming from Bookworks, and curator of an accompanying exhibition at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, in 2021. With Glyn Davis, she is co-editor of Queer Print in Europe, a collection of essays, forthcoming from Bloomsbury.

Location: CWS students and staff should be able to see this event (with the Zoom link inside) on their Google Calendar timetable. If you're unable to see or access the session, please email Evangeline (