last chance

Del Lagrace Volcano. Bodies Of Resistance / Berlin 2024

24 May 2024 – 16 Jun 2024

Regular hours

14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00
14:00 – 19:00

Save Event: Del Lagrace Volcano. Bodies Of Resistance / Berlin 20242

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Künstlerhaus Bethanien

Berlin, Germany


Travel Information

  • U1 Kottbusser Tor
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Since the invention of the medium in 1839, photography has not only depicted people; it has also significantly influenced their position in society and politics due to the way that photography visually categorizes people based on their physical characteristics, behavior, and clothing. By marking constructed gender roles, it also became a medium of stigmatization and discrimination.

It was not until the photography of the late 20th century – and later through its commercialization by social media – that common gender roles and their aesthetic formulation were questioned and deconstructed. Sometimes more, sometimes less radical, and not always linearly progressive. Often the results of this supposed liberalization are themselves only evidence of a shift in power interests in the human body.

Life and activism are inseparable for the work of Del LaGrace Volcano, who acts according to the motto of “calling in” rather than “calling out” and literally moves at eye level with those portrayed in front of the camera.
Volcano can best be described as an icon of queer, non-binary, genderfluid scenes and (sub)cultures who has been creating interventionist art, primarily using the medium of photography, since 1974. Volcano is a photographer, performer, activist, and filmmaker blessed with a self-ironic, somewhat laconic gift for language that generates a superpower against any attempts to shame them or their work.

The collaborative, respectful way of interacting and portraying people, based upon the concept of reciprocity, is in stark contrast to the historically exploitative ways in which both ethnographic and medical photography has depicted those considered outside the norm. In Volcano’s photographic work Bodies that are often unappreciated and undisciplinable in the mainstream become beautiful “agents” on a diplomatic mission.
In the art scene, all of this is still largely considered an “orchid subject,” even if invitations to exhibit at Tate Britain, the Victoria and Albert Museum, or the Tampere Art Museum and other venues are gradually indicating their penetration into the art canon of highbrow culture.
Volcano’s playful “doing gender,” which does not omit the painful moments, similarly makes viewers question not only what they see, but also how and against what background they see it—and want to see it in the future.

Volcano’s fifty-year archive of images includes close friends like Kathy Acker, Jack Halberstam, Lola Flash, Paul B. Preciado, and Kate Bornstein, along with feminist and trans icons like Kate Millet, Joan Nestle and Leslie Feinberg. Volcano also features as a protagonist in cult films like Dandy Dust (1998) by Ashley Hans Scheirl, and in numerous documentaries from Gabriel Baur’s Venus Boyz (2002) to the recent documentary, Narcissism (2022), made in Berlin by Toni Karat.

It was in 1974 that Volcano, known then as Della Grace, started taking photographs, first with various 35mm, analog SLR cameras and in the early 90s with a fully manual Mamiya RB67, both still in use today. Working and playing in the queer subcultural spaces of San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Bologna, and Berlin, they made new work wherever they went. Volcano’s work vacillates between formal portraiture and what at first glance appears documentary but is actually a queer performative intervention designed to disrupt heteronormative assumptions.

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Del Lagrace Volcano


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