Del LaGrace Volcano

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Del LaGrace Volcano
Born (1957-07-26)26 July 1957
California, United States
Nationality American
Occupation Photographer

Del LaGrace Volcano (born in California in 1957) is "one of instigators of polymorphous perverse queer culture."[1] A formally trained photographer, Del's work includes installation, performance and film and interrogates the performance of gender on several levels, especially the performance of masculinity and femininity.

Life and work[edit]

Born intersex with both male and female characteristics but raised as female from birth, Del lived the first 37 years of his life as a woman, but since then has been living as both male and female.[1] Del earned an MA in Photographic Studies at University of Derby, UK in 1992 after studying photography at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco from 1979-81. Prior to Studying at San Francisco, Del attended Allan Hancock College as a student in the Visual Studies program from 1977-79.

Volcano's work complicates understandings of both femininity and masculinity by depicting lesbian masculinity. In "The Feminine Principle" Volcano takes queer femininities as a focus. Included in this project is a portrait of Kate Bornstein. In "Lesbian Boyz and Other Inverts," Volcano's celebration of butch dykes, transsexual boys and other gender-queers, masculinity is shown as a tool of subversion.

Volcano's most recent photographs demonstrate how intersexed bodies can offer an entirely new perspective on the body. The 'normal' body in relation to Volcano's photographs becomes queer. Volcano describes the bodies in his latest works as "sites of mutation, loss, and longing." In these newer works, Volcano takes on the loss of his friend, Kathy Acker and the transformation of his lover Simo Maronati's abled body into a disabled one. Here, Volcano illustrates the queerness of any body marked by illness or trauma.

Artist's statement[edit]

"As a gender variant visual artist I access 'technologies of gender' in order to amplify rather than erase the hermaphroditic traces of my body. I name myself. A gender abolitionist. A part time gender terrorist. An intentional mutation and intersex by design, (as opposed to diagnosis), in order to distinguish my journey from the thousands of intersex individuals who have had their 'ambiguous' bodies mutilated and disfigured in a misguided attempt at 'normalization'. I believe in crossing the line as many times as it takes to build a bridge we can all walk across."[2]

Del LaGrace Volcano, September 2005

Selected exhibitions[edit]

Selected 1994-2005 [3]

  • CORPUS QUEER: bodies in resistance, Transpalette, Emmetrop, Bourges, France September 2005
  • INTERSEX 101: The Two Gender System as a Human Rights Abuse, NGBK gallery, Berlin, Germany June 2005
  • A BOOST IN THE SHELL, Aeroplastics Gallery (Group Show) Brussels, Belgium May 2005
  • PAS DE REGRETS, â la Galerie du Forum des images, France November 2003
  • FEMALE TURBULENCE, Aeroplastics Gallery, (Group Show) Brussels, Belgium October 2003
  • VENUS BOYZ, Zita, Folkets Bio, Stockholm, Sweden May 2002
  • FALLEN HEROES: Masculinity & Representation, Espai D'Art Contemporani de Castello, (Group Show) CastÉleon, Spain April 2002
  • FLUID FIRE, Format Gallery, Malmo 2002
  • GERHKE'S ARTISTS, Hamburg Erotic Art Museum, 2001
  • ONE MAN? SHOW, Babele Gallery, Milan, Italy April 2001
  • FLUID FIRE, Galleri Format, Malmö, Sweden December 2001
  • SEX MUTANT, The Nunnery, (Group Show) London, UK August 2000
  • A KINGDOM COMES, Standpoint Gallery, London, UK July 1999
  • ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, Melkweg, (Group Show) Amsterdam, Netherlands August 1998
  • DUKE: KING OF THE HILL, Courtauld Galleries, (Group Show) London, UK November 1999-2001
  • RETEROSPECTIVE: Del LaGrace, Magazin 4, Bregenz, Austria September 1996
  • DESIRE, Nordic Arts Centre, (Group Show) Helsinki, Finland; Kulturhuset, Stockholm, Sweden; Louisiana, Humlebœk, Denmark; 1995–97
  • STREET STYLE, Victoria & Albert Museum,(Group Show) London, UK June 1994


Del has produced four monographs from 1991's Love Bites to Sex Works in 2005.[4]

  • Love Bites

Della Grace. Love Bites.Gay Men's Press, London 1991

"Perhaps the first published photographic monograph of lesbian sexuality in the world made from an insider's perspective. In the early 90's LOVE BITES generated a great deal of controversy and censorship in both the mainstream and lesbian/gay media. In the USA it was banned by Customs & Excise for two weeks. In Canada they cut the most "offensive" photographs out of the book before selling it. In England it was sold by mainstream booksellers but not in lesbian or gay bookshops who protested they couldn't take the risk or disagreed with the SM content. Although it has been out of print for over 10 years it is still considered a queer classic."[4]

  • The Drag King Book

Del LaGrace Volcano & Judith "Jack" Halberstam. The Drag King Book. Serpent's Tail, 1999

  • Sublime Mutations

Del LaGrace Volcano. Sublime Mutations.Konkursbuchverlag, 2000

"Sublime Mutations, a photographic retrospective of Del LaGrace Volcano's work produced over the course of the last ten years, visually remaps the political and theoretical cutting edge of the queer avantgarde." [5]

In Jay Prossler's introduction, Prossler claims that through LaGrace Volcano's work "we see the changing shape of our bodies and our communities reflected". Importantly however, we also glimpse the changes promised by our was of seeing, the mutations we read as well as those that are visited upon our bodies. LaGrace Volcano skillfully demonstrates that sublime mutations are always already the transformations that viewers project on the physical world, and especially on the body.[6][unreliable source?]

  • Sex Works

Del LaGrace Volcano. Sex Works 1978-2005.(essay by Beatriz Preciado).Konkursbuchverlag, 2005

Sex Works shows the history of sex in the queer scene.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wilton, Tamsin. glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture. Chicago: glbtq,inc, 2002 "Grace, Della"
  2. ^ "Artist's Statement". Del LaGrace Volcano official website.
  3. ^ [1] List taken from official website.
  4. ^ a b "Publications". Del LaGrace Volcano official website.
  5. ^ McLeod Allegra (December 21, 2000). "Sublime Mutations", GaydarNation.
  6. ^ "Sublime Mutations".

External links[edit]