Critical Writing Index

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. October 30, 2010- February 13, 2011

by Steph Rogerson

C Magazine, Summer 2011, no. 110, pp. 49-50

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture presents an overview of the recent exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. The show surveyed almost a hundred years of queer subjectivity in American Portraiture. "The strong vision by co-curators Jonathan Katz and David Ward illustrated the legacy of sexual difference in art history, and the necessity of witnessing its complexities." (Rogerson, 49). The show was an examination into the subject of sexual difference and desire, exercising issues that "..[had once] been rendered obscure, and even silenced, in art history.."

The exhibition's title, "..aptly suggests the binaries of concealment and protection, investigation and struggle.. the title confirms the social complexity of what is rendered visible and invisible." (Rogerson, 50) Representing a large range of artists, from various time frames, backgrounds and working processes, Hide/Seek confirms the creative practices and existence of queer subjectivity in American Portraiture.

Going on to highlight the controversial symbolism present in many of these works, Rogerson makes evident the contributions of the Catholic League of America to this dialogue, resulting in the removal of work. These happenings "..remind us of the precarious nature of free speech and creative expression...[speaking] directly to a long history of negation" (Rogerson, 50).

ITEM 2011.022 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

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