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Photography: Lesbian, Post-Stonewall  
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In contrast to the universalizing photographers are those who seek to produce photographs with a lesbian "aura" or sensibility. Mainly active in the 1970s, but by no means extinct today, these photographers search for a female aesthetic. Their work often grows out of consciousness raising efforts and is based on the shared experiences of lesbians and their biological community.

These artists frequently use nature-based imagery and often equate lesbian sex with spirituality. Tee Corinne (b. 1943), for example, in her search for ways to represent a lesbian sensibility, produced mandalas through multiple photographic prints of women having oral sex or through double-exposed photographs of closeups of women's genitals superimposed over landscape backgrounds.

She chose to publish her photographs rather than exhibit them in order to reach a wider cross section of the public and to provide a publicly accessible lesbian history.

Overtly Political Images

In their final category, Boffin and Fraser place photographs that clearly deal with lesbian issues in an overtly political way. Among these issues are the form and control of depictions of lesbian sexuality, the struggles against attacks, the de-politicizing and co-opting of lesbians through lesbian chic, and the conservative tendencies in postmodern theory.

The photographers who confront these issues often embrace strategies of representation informed by aspects of postmodernist practice, such as appropriation, pastiche, charade, irony, and parody. They retain a belief in a progressive and transgressive photographic practice despite their understanding that a politics of resistance can no longer be based on the unity and coherence of a lesbian aesthetic or experience.

Consequently, lesbians subvert and appropriate popular forms such as cartoons, westerns, soap operas, and Hollywood films to question representations of marginality and difference.

Deborah Bright (b. 1950), for instance, inserts images of herself as "butch-girl" into the conventional narrative stills of earlier Hollywood films. She exploits the gaps, elisions, and contradictions of the genre to assert a previously banished lesbian presence.

Similarly, Australian photographer Fiona Arnold (b. 1958) uses found objects and photographs of herself to produce quirky and amusing pastiched images such as The Dirty Dozen (1995).

Another Australian photographer, Tina Fiveash (b. 1970), appropriates images from magazines and advertisements of the 1950s to create a missing lesbian history. She constructs environments for her photographs in order to re-present a contemporary dream of the past through her sexualized historical gaze.

Using a photographic booth manufactured in Japan that morphs digital images of offspring for couples, Michelle Barker (b. 1969) and Anna Munster developed the installation piece, The Love Machine (1995), where they are presented as a couple, together with their "instant" morphed family, an Asian boy, a Caucasian girl, and an African-American girl.

Since 1991 Jill Casid (b. 1966) and Maria DeGuzman (b. 1964), as the feminist partnership SPIR--Conceptual Photography, have been working in collaboration with each other and with friends and colleagues to produce narrative photo-text sequences and single images that attempt to transform myths, stereotypes, and icons and visualize ideas in a seductive form.

This work is an extension of many of the issues they have been exploring in their scholarship, including the negotiations of identity construction; the performance and performativity of ethnicity, gender, and "orientation" (sexual and otherwise); and the connection of the "image" to the "cliche."

Depictions of Lesbian Sexuality

The depiction of lesbian sexuality by lesbians had one of its earliest manifestations in JEB's photograph of herself and her girlfriend kissing in the early 1970s. By the 1990s the development of a queer S&M culture and the increased numbers of female-to-male transsexuals had greatly broadened the range of experience available to photographers.

Masculine iconography, such as gay male pornography, has been exploited by photographers such as Della Grace (b. 1957) in order to challenge the normative image of lesbian sex and to comment on the economic power and privilege of the gay male.

Grace insists that she is not mapping gay male sexuality onto the lesbian body, but is using a "butch" or fetish iconography for the purposes of self-conscious parody. Now the "hermaphrodyke" Del LaGrace Volcano, he has recently focused on images of Drag Kings and female-to-male persons.

In New Zealand, Rebecca Swan (b. 1968) has also extensively documented the experiences and identities of transsexuals.

In her photographic series, "Dirty Girls in London" (1988), Jill Posener (b. 1953) stages passionate and blatant images of lesbians making out in familiar public locations. She claims that these images are political acts analogous to lesbian graffiti in making lesbian sexuality publicly visible.

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