(Un)Defining Queer at The Whitworth

Part of our Exhibitions guide

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Ajamu X, Bud Kim, 2018 © the artist, Ajamu Studio

(Un)Defining Queer at The Whitworth, Manchester, Until 3 December 2023, free entry - Visit now

Delving into its own collections and practices, The Whitworth presents (Un)Defining Queer, a brand new exhibition that takes a queer lens to examine the use of language, histories and narratives in what ‘queer’ really means today.

As museums move towards decolonising and diversifying their practices, The Whitworth is continuing to prove its commitment to representing a wide range of artistic voices – (Un)Defining Queer is a major display that gathers a significant collection of works by artists from various backgrounds and ages, whose voices loudly contribute to the examination of queerness.

Paul Cézanne, Les Baigneurs (Grande Planche) , 896-97, Lithograph, University of Manchester
Paul Cézanne, Les Baigneurs (Grande Planche) , 896-97, Lithograph, University of Manchester

 

The show aims to address the chasm that exists between the abundant practices of LGBTQIA+ artists and their representation in national galleries due to the traditionally heteronormative museum activities. Not only does it provide a stage for queer artists’ voices but also a chance to update the existing definitions of queerness in all of its complexity and multitudes.

(Un)Defining Queer presents a display of works on loan as well as some never before seen pieces from The Whitworth’s collection. The artists range from those whose names are firmly carved into the canon of contemporary art history such as Derek Jarman, Wolfgang Tilmans, David Hockney, Maggie Hambling, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Keith Vaughan as well as established but younger or outsider artists and collectives like Jez Dolan, Ajamu X, Matthew Bamber, Pearl Alcock, General Idea, Sarah-Joy Ford and Chester Tenneson among others.

Niki de Saint Phalle (designer) 1930 - 2002 Marburger Tapetenfabrik J.B. Scarfer GMBH and Co. KG (manufacturer), Nana , 1972 Machine printed wallpaper, University of Manchester
Niki de Saint Phalle (designer) 1930 – 2002 Marburger Tapetenfabrik J.B. Scarfer GMBH and Co. KG (manufacturer), Nana , 1972 Machine printed wallpaper, University of Manchester

 

With such a wide range of artistic practices, audiences can expect to see painting, photographs, documentation of performance, installation, prints, sculpture and much more in this wonderfully diverse display of artistic thought and oeuvre. From Ajamu X’s spectacular monochrome photographs to Maggi Hambling’s expressive paintings resembling layered wisps of smoke, the exhibition definitely offers an utterly satisfying aesthetic and emotional art experience.

The display was created in partnership with the LGBT Foundation and co-led by an intersectional group of people who self-identify as LGBTQIA+. (Un)Defining Queer also invites audiences to take part in the show by contributing to the ever-evolving ‘Queer Glossary’. The aim of the Glossary is to grant visibility to members of the LGBTQIA+ community within the collection.

(Un)Defining Queer at The Whitworth, Manchester

Until 3 December 2023
Free entry