This is an extensive collection of multimedia artworks, made over the last half-century, looking at gender identity and fluidity. It mixes the glamour and nostalgia of drag with transgressive images and performative art to create an exploration of gender “not as a fixed set of categories, but rather as something to be challenged, reconsidered and in some cases rejected altogether.” 
The notes from the show stress that “pleasure, play, celebration and representation are inherently political, and that humour can be used as a tool for both survival and critique…. Kiss My Genders is an exhibition characterised by multiplicity. While some of the artists in the show make use of and disrupt established conventions such as photographic portraiture, others seek out and create new forms of representation. Often opting for ambiguity and abstraction over legibility, the artists in Kiss My Genders respond in their own visual language and on their own terms to a subject that, for many, remains in a permanent and productive state of irresolution.”
There is great power in these artworks – deliberate acts of transgression, resistance and masquerade. Bold investigations that resist legibility, stereotypical labels or categorisation and use ambiguity as a political tool.
- The paintings of Luciano Castelli (b 1952 Switzerland) – the glitter embellishments and the simplicity of his work. 
- Amrou Al-Kadhi (b 1990 UK) and Holly Falconer (b 1984 UK) – using a triple exposure to capture the disorientation of being in drag as a Muslim “the way that it can fracture your sense of self as well as hold it together, and its ability to ‘rupture and renew’ inherited cultural identities.”
- Silent (2016) – Pauline Boudry (b 1972, Switzerland) & Renate Lorenz (b 1963 Germany) with Aerea Negrot. The artists reference the “ambiguity of silent acts, which could either be a ‘violent experience, as in being silenced, or a powerful performative act of resistance.”
- Juliana Huxtable (b 1987, USA) – “concerned with the way in which marginalised groups are ‘forced to be their own saints’. Huxtable uses self-portraits, with a sci-fi feel, as self-exploration and as a ‘vehicle for other people to see themselves and their own possibility’. She says “I think it’s really important that as a black trans woman I have the right not to be documentary, to not have to be literal.” 
The curation took us on a journey that started with the relative safety of the drag aesthetic to the discombobulating Jenkin Van Zyl film ‘Looners’. Van Zyl (b 1993 UK) “rejects all binary distinctions between ‘real and virtual, front and backstage, male and female, self and other’. Interested in the slippages between gender identities, he embraces ‘multiple selves, instability and deviance.’ “. The displays also included mirrors, a spiral route into a video room, a white-carpeted room where overshoes were required and other artworks outside the Hayward and around the Southbank centre.
The inclusion of erotic photomontage by Pierre Molinier (1900 -1976, France) prompted me to wish there had been more found photos included such as the cross-dressing set exhibited a few years ago in Arles. Molinier said that his images were private and for personal enjoyment but since his death have been very influential for other artists. 
- Catherine Opie (b 1961, USA): “I take a very traditional way of looking at portraiture to photograph a non-traditional and misrepresented community in a loving and dignified way.” Sitters are placed before a brightly coloured backdrop designed to allow the eye “to go through the photograph in a different way than if it was, say, a person sitting in their house. It’s about separating the subject from their world but still representing their world through their body.” I have felt some disquiet about Wendy’s suggestion that I shoot NCG denizens against a white background as I am keen NOT to separate the subject from the environment. Will be interesting to explore further.
- This was all ‘insider’ art and with a strong LGBTQI perspective. As a viewer outside those communities, it felt very voyeuristic. I need to be aware that many will feel like that when viewing my NCG images.
- I was enamoured by the use of white curtain cloth as a canvas for Victoria Sin’s A View from Elsewhere, Act 1, She Postures in Context (2018) . Sin (b 1991, Canada) says: “I’m interested in how we create narratives about ourselves, including about gender and race, the ways we think about being human.” The arrangement of the installation invited the viewer into the middle to be in the spotlight and immersed but not exposed.
We were all a little unsure of the significance of including some of Peter Hujar’s Hudson River images but luckily a fellow student found an explanation in the exhibition book:
The Sea by Travis Alabanza
Sometimes I stand by the edge of where the ocean meets the beach, and look out into the sea, so I can see something that does not have an end.
I often get asked what my gender feels like,
and I want to say: it is more like, what I wish it could feel like?
I wish it could feel like this moment.
Like it does not have a beginning or an end.
That you cannot see where it starts or stops.
That it just continues to exist, or not exist.
That it is a vast space of nothingness in one wave, and holds so much in the next.
That it is like the moment where the sea feels endless.
Sometimes I stand by the edge of where the ocean meets the beach, and look out into the sea, so I can feel like something that does not have an end.
Cis people ask me what my gender feels like and that never allows me to say what my gender really is.
My gender feels like something stopped halfway through.
A badly formatted tape to CD conversion, missing full potential.
The second character on a video game, without levels , no up or down.
It feels like an unfinished
A body of water, potential to do so much, yet eventually bottled.
Sometimes I stand by the edge of where the ocean meets the beach, and look out into the sea, that looks out over my gender, that pours over my body, and makes me feel like nothing.
- Kiss My Genders, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 12 June 2019 – 8th September 2019; Exhibition Guide
- https://www.lucianocastelli.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Malerei2-1.jpg (accessed 13.7.19)
- https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/juliana-huxtable (accessed 14.7.19)
- http://galeriegaillard.com/en/artistes/oeuvres/14/pierre-molinier#1(accessed 13.7.19)
- http://victoriasin.co.uk/index.php/a-view-from-elsewhere/ (accessed 14.7.19)