NPR: Gonzales-Day on The Academic Minute

The Academic Minute features researchers from colleges and universities around the world, keeping listeners abreast of what’s new and exciting in the academy and of all the ways academic research contributes to solving the world’s toughest problems and to serving the public good.

Scripps College will take over the Academic Minute during the week of April 15. Presenters include:

Monday 4/15: Prof. Ken Gonzales-Day (link here)
Tuesday 4/16: Prof. Myriam J. A. Chancy
Wednesday 4/17: Prof. Patrick Ferree
Thursday 4/18: Prof. Stacy Wood
Friday 4/19: Prof. Sara Marzen

Link to NPR here


“Queer-ish” is the name of an exhibition that highlights a collection of 19th and 20th century vernacular photographs. There are snapshots of everyday life and subjects, depicting people who may have identified as queer. These images encourage viewers to consider the link between photography, representation and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as the role of photographs in shaping the “queer imaginary” as a generative space that is exploratory, precarious, celebratory, potentially unseen, and always subject to change.

The exhibition includes early queer heroes like Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Christine Jorgensen, Claude Cahun, Bruce of Los Angeles , and so many others, who have contributed to the history of photography.

The selected image is entitled Two men with canes holding hands. It is a tintype photograph and measures four inches by two and a half inches.

There is an intentionality in their pose. Facing forward and looking into the camera, they each hold canes in one hand and clasp hands with the other. Their feet almost touch. One looks a little taller and their hats sit differently on their heads, but each reflects a constellation of matching elements, from hats and canes, to their expression of confidence. Even the bench’s backrest seems to form an X that suggests an uncanny doubling or equivalence between the figures. Were they lovers? The eye is naturally drawn to their hands. Did men ever clasp hands like this? So gentle, so trusting.

The image is about touch but suggests a deep affection that foregrounds the space between then and now.

The way they hold their hands is so unexpected that I am reminded, of the importance of photographic research for understanding the past and for shaping a better future.

Gonzales-Day, Fletcher Jones Chair in Art,  will discuss one image from the exhibition “Queer-ish” presented at Scripps College.

About the exhibition:
“Queer-ish” highlights Gonzales-Day’s personal collection of 19th- and 20th-century vernacular photographs—snapshots of everyday life and subjects—depicting people who may have identified as LGBTQ+. These images encourage viewers to consider the link between photography, representation and LGBTQ+ communities, as well as the role of photographs in shaping notions of queer identity and what Gonzales-Day calls the “queer imaginary,” a critical space he describes as “exploratory, precarious, celebratory, potentially unseen and subject to change.”

Early queer heroes like Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Bruce of Los Angeles, Christine Jorgensen and Annie Sprinkle are just a few of the many people who helped shape the queer imaginary,” Gonzales-Day said. “The use of ‘-ish’ in the exhibition’s title is a playful gesture, recognizing the precarity and fluidity of gender and sexual identities as well as the complexity of human sexuality.

The exhibition includes works by Laura Aguilar, Bruce of Los Angeles, Rick Castro, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore, Tammy Rae Carland, Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, Naima Green, John K. Hillers, Taizo Kato, Bob Mizer, Pierre Molinier, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Catherine Opie, Marcel Pardo Ariza, Pau S. Pescador, George Quaintance, Pacifico Silano, Annie Sprinkle, Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden and Austin Young.

To read more on Queer-ish click here or visit the archive link at the top of the page.

To learn more about Scripps College click here.

Image Credit: Maker unknown, Two men with canes, c. 1880, tintype, Collection of Ken Gonzales-Day