press release

Kiss My Genders
June 12–September 8, 2019

Featured artists
Ajamu, Travis Alabanza, Amrou Al-Kadhi & Holly Falconer, Sadie Benning, Joan Jett Blakk, Nayland Blake, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Flo Brooks, Luciano Castelli, Jimmy DeSana, Jes Fan, Chitra Ganesh, Martine Gutierrez, Lyle Ashton Harris, Nicholas Hlobo, Peter Hujar, Juliana Huxtable, Tarek Lakhrissi, Zoe Leonard, Ad Minoliti, Pierre Molinier, Kent Monkman, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Planningtorock, Christina Quarles, Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Hunter Reynolds, Athi-Patra Ruga, Tejal Shah, Victoria Sin, Jenkin van Zyl and Del LaGrace Volcano

Kiss My Genders is a group exhibition that explores and celebrates gender identity and gender fluidity. Spanning the past 50 years, it brings together over 100 artworks by more than 30 artists from all over the world, some of whom were born almost a century apart.

Rather than treating gender as a set of fixed categories, the artists in this exhibition approach it as something to be challenged, reconsidered and in some cases rejected altogether.

Although the tone and approach of the works in Kiss My Genders is often light, the questions they raise and the subjects they address are not. Implicit in many of the works in this exhibition—which range from painting and video to large-scale, site-specific installations—is that pleasure, play, celebration and representation are inherently political, and that humour can be used as a tool for both survival and critique.

Kiss My Genders is an exhibition characterised by multiplicity. While some of the artists in this show make use of and disrupt established conventions such as photographic portraiture, others seek out and create new forms of representation. Often opting for ambiguity and abstraction over legibility, all of the artists in Kiss My Genders respond on their own terms and in their own visual language to a subject that, for many, remains in a permanent and productive state of irresolution.

Included in the exhibition are a number of new commissions: Looners (2019) by Jenkin van Zyl, a video installation described by the artist as a deliberate queering of cinematic and military violence; At Her Dream’s Edge (2019) by Chitra Ganesh, a site-specific installation that explores femininity, sexuality and power and features transgressive bodies inspired by mythology and science fiction; and Victoria Sin’s A View from Elsewhere, Act 1, She Postures inContext (2019), a "multimedia fantasy" exploring "desire, shame and the material queer body."

Occupying the entire Hayward Gallery, Kiss My Genders also extends outside the building. The poster for drag queen Joan Jett Blakk’s 1992-presidential campaign has been fly-posted across one of the exterior walls, while artworks by Ad Minoliti and Athi-Patra Ruga and a poem by Tarek Lakhrissi occupy parts of the wider Southbank Centre site.

Kiss My Genders is curated by guest curator Vincent Honoré, Director of Exhibitions and Programmes at MoCo Montpellier Contemporain, with Hayward Gallery Assistant Curator Tarini Malik and Curatorial Assistant Thomas Sutton.

It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring original essays by Amrou Al-Kadhi, Paul Clinton, Charlie Fox, Jack Halberstam, Manuel Segade and Susan Stryker, an excerpt from Renate Lorenz’s influential Queer Art: A Freak Theory, poetry by Travis Alabanza, Jay Bernard, Nat Raha and Tarek Lakhrissi, and a roundtable discussion between Vincent Honoré and a number of participating artists.

The public programme includes a talk by artist Nicholas Hlobo; an evening of performances, poetry and screenings featuring artists from Kiss My Genders; and a panel discussion exploring the ways in which queer photographers since the 1980s have used photography to redefine gender identity and engage with political activism, chaired by writer and lecturer Paul Clinton.

Exhibition title taken from “Transome” by Planningtorock, licensed courtesy of Domino Publishing Company Limited.