In common use, the word gender may refer to biological sex, self-identity, perceived identity, or imposed identity. Gender can be both fluid and ambiguous. Many of the ways we express and identify gender are based on visual clues. George Eastman House is proud to present The Gender Show, an exhibition that explores ways gender has been presented in photographs, ranging from archetypal to non-traditional to subversive representations, with a special emphasis on the performances that photography can encourage or capture.
With a collection that spans over 170 years of photography, Eastman House is uniquely able to thoughtfully examine our changing cultural and social landscape, in which evolving ideas of gender are framed as photographic images. The Gender Show offers the opportunity to see important photographs from our collection in a new context.
The exhibition will feature over 130 photographs from the George Eastman House collection, spanning the nineteenth century to the present, by a wide range of artists including Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Steichen, Nickolas Muray, Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Andy Warhol, Barbara Norfleet, Mary Ellen Mark, Cindy Sherman, and Chuck Samuels. Self portraits by artists, sometimes in disguise, are a small but essential part of the exhibition, as are photographs of leading actors such as Sarah Bernhardt, Marlene Dietrich, Douglas Fairbanks and Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Lily Langtry, Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger—in time, each was a paragon of his or her gender, or of androgyny.
The Gender Show sets the stage for a lively discussion of both photographic and cultural conventions and can be enjoyed by a variety of audiences for both its subject matter and content. Those interested in material, visual, and popular culture; gender, identity, and equality; and photographic history will find this exhibition captivating.
Works from our collection will be supplemented with a set of photographs and videos by several contemporary artists, including Janine Antoni, Kalup Linzy, Martha Rosler, and Gillian Wearing.