Arthur Leipzig, Photographer

NYC has lost one of its greats – Arthur Leipzig, photographer. So many of the classic shots of NYC are his – kids playing stickball, the opening night at the opera, sunbathers at Coney Island. He was 96.

Mr. Leipzig’s 1943 photograph “King of the Hill” — in which two Brooklyn boys square off atop a mound of dirt — was chosen by Edward Steichen, director of the Museum of Modern Art’s photography department, for his celebrated “Family of Man” exhibition of 1955. The show’s theme was the universality of human experience.

To look at these pictures today is to catch intimations of the evanescence of both youth and a city. In his 1995 book, “Growing Up in New York,” Mr. Leipzig called himself “witness to a time that no longer exists, a more innocent time.”

“We believed in hope,” he wrote.

These are two of my favorites, but there’s more and more and more.

Brian Eno & Grayson Perry on Perversion

I love this.

GP Careful! Speaking as a pervert myself, what the internet did was tell you that you weren’t alone. And it was shocking. When I was young, when I was about ten years old, I used to have this fantasy, which used to turn me on greatly, of being in a body cast – lying in hospital, motionless, unable to move. And then when the internet came along, one day I just thought, “I wonder,” and then I just googled “plaster casts” and like – eugh! There’s websites called things like Cast Your Enthusiasm. It’s an offshoot of bondage.

BE It’s an offshoot of surrendering, as well – the same thing. You’re deliberately losing control.

GP And it’s kind of a loving thing, I think. It has to be. If you think about giving up to God, God is always there and is a parental presence, a parental projection. In bondage, there is always somewhere in the fantasy the loving but cruel parent figure.

BE The loving dominator.

GP Yes, we’re all gimps to a certain extent. Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.

“Often when we look at perversions, you’re seeing an extreme, ritualised version of what everyone else has latent in them.” = You can put that in your pipe & smoke it.

Neil Gaiman on Art, Work, & Happiness

This is for my wife, who loves Mr. Gaiman at least as much as I do.

This is my favorite bit:

People keep working in a freelance world because their work is good, they’re easy to get along with, & because they deliver the work on time. & You don’t even need all three. 2 out of 3 is fine:

People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good & you deliver it on time.

People will forgive the lateness of your work if it’s is good & they like you.

& you don’t have to be as good as everyone else if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

Because it’s true.

NYC Drag Photos

With many recent exhibitions, screenings and publications, the queer community, particularly in New York, seems to be on an archival bent, mapping a genealogy of various aspects of LGBTQ history. Not only is queer culture experiencing archive fever, but the era of the 1980s and 1990s has been given an inordinate amount of attention by curators, critics and writers. Adding to that dialogue, Simpson’s Drag Explosion presents an archive of the drag scene, which seems to often appear on the periphery of many exhibitions and publications on the 1980s art scene or LGBTQ history despite its influential humor, camp and fashion that still pervades culture today.

The photos themselves are a blast. I hope there are a lot more screenings, but if you can’t catch one, you can watch a slideshow of the photos online with Linda’s narration.

What To Do with Grief

Sometimes I wonder whether writing a book to deal with my father’s death and all the other loss I’ve experienced in the last year is the right thing to do.

Then I see this woman’s art as a response to her mother’s death and think: yes. Go look at all the other images she created to honor her mother. I wish I didn’t understand how she could have spent so much time and energy creating this other world but I do.

Thank you, all of you, who understand what this means in an ongoing way for me. As I said to a friend whose father died shortly after mine: it changes everything. I explained.

grief is overwhelming. i have found it has changed everything – the way i look at the world, what’s important to me, my commitment to my work, my sense of self.

i think death – esp of a parent – is a brush with mortality. & like all brushes with mortality, it makes the mundane things you do to get along in the world look like the bullshit it is. AND IT IS.

so for me it’s about figuring out how to live more deeply.

The weirdest part of it is knowing that all of the people around you are experiencing life on the same shallow plane you were on, or who distract themselves from their own bullshit with gossip or turf wars or with whatever.  I’ve recently been disappointed to hear a few things people decided to believe about me without actually asking me if they were true. And while I have moments of wanting to explain / defend myself, and have given in to that futile effort, I was exhausted in the process. But sometimes, yes, I still want to, despite the sadness, and then I think: it’s so not important. You can’t really change someone’s mind if s/he’s decided in advance that you’re a jerk, & no one of any quality would. I feel disappointed at not being given the benefit of the doubt, and then I go back to writing.

So yes, more art. More worlds where life and pain and loss are meaningful and intense and beautiful. More worlds like Kirsty Mitchell’s. Less pettiness, rivalry, or acting out of insecurity. More commitment to social justice. More passion, and more profundity, in every sense of the word.

Artist’s Statement

How do you not love artists? A sculptor has created a sculpture of her and her wife, in bed naked and embracing, as their headstone in Woodlawn cemetary. She said:

“Since all we were legally afforded was death, I was going to make the most elegant statement on our government not allowing us to marry as I could muster.”

What an amazing statement and an amazing response to discrimination.

New Trans Art & Lit Magazine

Bodies of Work, a new Art and Literature Magazine is looking for submissions.

We, the editors, are three trans artists who believe art and literature are two of the most vital parts to our world today. At this moment, there is no magazine which brings all transgender, transsexual and gender variant writers and artists to the forefront. We believe it is time to publish such a magazine!

The purpose of Bodies of Work is to publish and promote literature and art that celebrates the diverse visions and understandings of the transsexual, transgender and gender-variant international community through language and image. We want to inspire and be inspired by the innovative output of our communities and come together with trans artists of all genres in creative discourse. We want to engage and support our creative processes and learn how trans artists and writers create.

Bodies of Work will:

* Introduce a wide audience to literature and art by the trans and gender-variant community.
* Provide a unique opportunity for underrepresented writers and artists viewpoints.
* Discover and publish emerging and developing writers and artists. Continue reading “New Trans Art & Lit Magazine”

Nothing New Under the Sun

To a lot of people, transgender identities are new, some emerging idea that’s only happened in the modern era, & to some degree, that’s true: without the discovery of hormones (turn of the last century) and the development of surgeries (middle of the last century), it is much more difficult for people to live in a body that’s wrongly gendered.

But that, however, is only for the people who require medical intervention. There have always been bodies that bridge male and female, that express secondary sex characteristics of both. Evidence:

How fantastic is she? At the very least, when some moralizing pundit talks about trans or intersex as some kind of new perversity, and a sign that the world is coming to an end, we can at least point out that it’s a very old perversity indeed. Most perversions are. We don’t invent much, but instead mostly forget, or otherwise bury some histories and identities and pretend they never did exist. (For the record, for those of you who aren’t careful readers: I do not think trans or intersex is a perversion.I am employing rhetoric in order to make my point clear. Civil and cultural recognition of trans and intersex identities and bodies is a sign of civilization, to me.)

But they did exist. This piece is not on display, but owned by the Louvre, yet this other one is on display, and in my opinion, far more sensual. Museum stats below the break.

Continue reading “Nothing New Under the Sun”