Still from “New Beijing, New Marriage,” 2009
by Fan Popo and David Cheng
Gay marriage is a hotly debated topic with people both passionately for and against legally recognizing the union of gay and lesbian couples.
But for all the debate around marriage, there isn’t much discussion of gay relationships.
Form and Content and Traffic Zone galleries in Minneapolis are co-presenting an exhibition titled “Love Never Dies.” It’s curated by Jim Dryden and Howard Oransky with the support of the Walker Art Center, and is a sequel to a group show they organized in 2007 about GLBT identity, called “Modes of Disclosure.” Oransky says they wanted to open up a dialogue about aspects of gay relationships that don’t often get discussed.
The reality is that people are loving each other and committing themselves to each other and hoping for the approval of the broader community, but regardless of whether they get it or not, these things are happening.
At the entrance to the Form and Content gallery is a video piece about a lesbian couple’s wedding celebration, as documented by their teenage daughters. Next to it stands and art book featuring portraits of GLBT families taken at Sears. Oransky says this celebration of GLBT families serves as a centerpiece to the exhibition; the other works in the gallery reflect the commentary swirling around gay relationships.
Hey Hetero! 2001 (one of a six part series)
Deborah Kelly and Tina Fiveash
“Love Never Dies” brings together work from around the United States (California, Hawaii, Minnesota) and around the world (Norway, China, Italy, Australia, Canada). And in many instances the videos, prints, photographs and sculpture use humor to disarm the viewer.
Deborah Kelly and Tina Fiveash created a series of posters that have been posted on billboards and in magazines all over their native Australia. Oransky says the posters are so slickly designed that they draw in the viewers before they’ve figured out what the message is.
In the simplest of terms it puts reality in front of you in a way it hasn’t before. Like “Hey Hetero! Have a baby – No National Debate:” why do we have to have a debate over having children? Yet gay couples do.
Plush Pony, 1992 by Laura Aguilar
Silver gelatin print
The exhibition includes three photographs by Laura Aguilar taken in 1992 in Rosemead California, at the dyke bar “Plush Pony.” Oransky particularly loves the photo shown above.
It conveys a whole mixture of emotions, love, mischief, sexuality, adoration, and self awareness that “we’re different and we’re proud.”
Oransky and Dryden are both in their 50s, and Oransky says the exhibition was in part inspired by seeing a younger generation of committed GLBT couples emerging in the gay marriage debate. Oransky says he also wanted to explore how an individual’s perspective on their sexuality and their body changes over time.
Gender and sexuality are fluid ideas that exist in the mind and are expressed through our bodies. These things are interpreted and reinterpreted by individuals in different ways at different points in their lives. Even a heterosexual is going to go through transformations in relation to his/her sexuality through the course of a lifetime. The same man at age 13 and age 83 will define and express himself sexually in very different ways.
Protester at Gay Marriage Rights Rally, 2006 by Terry Gydesen
Local photographer Terry Gydessen went to a debate at the Capitol Building in St. Paul in 2006, and documented the ant-gay marriage sentiment she found there.
Oransky says while the focus of the exhibition is gay relationships, it couldn’t ignore the debate on gay marriage.
You very quickly pick up on the fact that the exhibition has a lot of humor and playfulness, but we can’t ignore that there’s a lot of serious politics going on around this issue, not just here in the Twin Cities but all around the world.
Other works in the exhibition explore what it means to be a “bride?” What is a bride? Who is a bride? Must they be married to men? Can a lesbian be a bride?
Frank A. GåRDSø and Eirik Tyrihjel
Still from “Love Never Dies,” 2003
16 mm film transferred to DVD, 2 minutes, 56 seconds
The exhibition takes its name from a short film projected on the back wall of the Form and Content Gallery. “Love Never Dies” is three minute piece from Olso, Norway, and it starts out with an elderly man sitting in his room (perhaps in an assisted living residence), fiddling with his wedding ring and adjusting his tie while looking out the window. A taxi comes up, someone gets out and comes to the door. It’s then you realize that it’s another elderly man. They embrace and walk down the hall together.
Oransky says one thing all human beings share is the absolute need for affection, and to be connected to another person.
There’are some things that all human beings have in common, and some things that make us different. What we all share is the need to love and be loved, and there so many ways in which that can happen. That diversity of expression is part of what makes us human.
“Love Never Dies” open May 20 at Form and Content and Traffic Zone Galleries in downtown Minneapolis, with an opening reception on Saturday, June 5 from 7 – 10pm. This exhibition is being presented in cooperation with Walker Art Center, in conjunction with its film festival Queer Takes.