Visual Productions: A Dialogue on Identity and Sexuality explores visual representations that turn to the body to uphold or question social ideals about identity, sexuality, power and oppression. Students in Visible Bodies and the Politics of Sexuality (CAST 202), taught by Professor Wendy Kozol at Oberlin College, curated the six exhibits that comprise Visual Productions. The exhibits contain a rich collection of media including architecture, photography, painting, music film and video. These exhibits collectively explore how discourses about embodiment and modes of visuality interact to promote, revise or contest ways of being and ways of living in American society.
Visual Productions examines representational strategies that objectify, aestheticize, reconfigure and/or disrupt normative ideals about identity as means of providing insights into human experiences of power, vulnerability and empowerment. Exploring diverse subject matter -- from advertisements to Disney princesses and fashion design – the exhibits address how normative ideals about race, gender, sexuality, class and ability produce ideal body standards. Beyond that, the exhibits ask, how do artists, musicians, filmmakers and others disrupt or challenge those ideals to provide different ways of seeing bodies and identities. Finally, Visual Productions calls attention to the role of curation, that is, the role of the curator in selecting and presenting images, in shaping what we see and, in so doing, how we come to understand the worlds around us.
A still from Looking for Langston, dir. Isaac Juliens, 1989. Copyright: British Film Inst.