Céline is proud to present an exhibition of work from the archive of Photographer and Photojournalist Phyllis Christopher.
Christopher’s notable contributions to the discipline are characterised in part by her role as a contributing photo-editor to the magazine, On Our Backs which ran 1984-2006. During the self-publishing boom of the 1980’s, the first Lesbian Erotica magazine published in USA was a vitally inclusive publication which stridently promoted and appealed to the lesbian experience against a backdrop of conservative hostility and predominantly anti-pornographic feminism.
Integral to cultivating the magazines distinctive style, Christopher’s wider practice as a photojournalist contributed to the architecture of On Our Backs’ aesthetic but was also indictive of broader concerns within the LGBTQ community of the US at the time. Living in San Francisco throughout the 80’s/90’s/00’s, Christopher documented a wealth of events at a key juncture in the fight to progress gay rights. Straddling the boundary between voyeur and participant, her portrait of a community asserting its’ visibility is balanced by the intimacy of her erotic work, the intensity of which shifts fluidly between the abstract and the explicit methods of image making. Operating in the studio and the street, Christopher skilfully and consistently channels a logic of duality making her archive a dynamic, artistic document of social history that possesses a rare sensitivity and complexity.
‘Passionate Acts in Virulent Times’ brings together a range of work pulled from different periods of Christopher’s career to demonstrate the consistently dualistic nature of her output and provide insight in to the intimate life of a struggle key to the construction of the modern American cultural and civic landscape. At present Christopher is working on a publication of her wider archive the visibility of which we hope will be assisted by this exhibition.