Del LaGrace Volcano

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Del LaGrace Volcano
Born(1957-07-26)26 July 1957
California, United States
OccupationPhotographer, activist

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 career[edit]

Volcano 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, Volcano attended Allan Hancock College as a student in the Visual Studies program from 1977-79. Born intersex with both male and female characteristics but raised as female from birth, Volcano lived the first 37 years of their life as a woman, but since then has been living as both male and female.[1] Del LaGrace Volcano (formerly named Della Grace) continues to further adopt their true self, not only through their gender but also through their name. They took on their current name to challenge the "bi-gendered status quo" after marrying a queer man, Johnny Volcano.[2]

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 their latest works as "sites of mutation, loss, and longing." In these newer works, Volcano takes on the loss of their friend, Kathy Acker and the transformation of their lover Simo Maronati's abled body into a disabled one. Here, Volcano illustrates the queerness of any body marked by illness or trauma. Their self-portrait "INTER*me" photograph series (formally the "Herm Body" series)[3] is a raw rendition of the artist's body using black and white Polaroid film, in conversation with their pervious work it speaks to the construction of different age-selves and the technologies of gender in photography.[4]

Volcano's artist statement of September 2005 reads:

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.[5]

Volcano also explores themes of both sexual and gender fluidity throughout their work. Volcano often depicts the instability of gender identity, by pushing past the binary gender system, and frequently uses their queerness in their work to contest the idea of sexual identity as something that is permanently embodied.[6] As shown in Volcanos photography book, "Love Bites", Volcano presents various images of women at sexual play, dressed "in costumes ranging from brides to gay leather men".[2] Volcano, in this way, seems to aim at defying conventional gender norms and feminist principles within their text. In "Teddy Boy David", Volcano further pushes this agenda and toys with the idea of age dynamics and, mainly, youthfulness in terms of sexuality and sexual play.[7]

Selected publications[edit]

Selected published works include:

  • Love Bites, as Della Grace, published by 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."[8]
  • The Drag King Book, co-authored with Judith "Jack" Halberstam, published by Serpent's Tail, 1999.[8]
  • Sublime Mutations, published by 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." [9] 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.[10][unreliable source?]
  • Sex Works 1978-2005, also containing an essay by Beatriz Preciado. Published by Konkursbuchverlag, 2005. Sex Works shows a history of sex in the queer scene.
  • A contribution to the book Inter: Erfahrungen intergeschlechtlicher Menschen in der Welt der zwei Geschlechter, edited by Elisa Barth, in 2013. Other notable contributors include Mauro Cabral, Sally Gross, and Phoebe Hart.[11]
  • A contribution to Queer Theory, edited by Iain Morland and Annabelle Willox, published in 2004. The book presents fifteen articles on sexuality, gender studies and other aspects of queer studies.[12] Other notable contributors include Judith Butler, Patrick Califia, Cheryl Chase, Larry Kramer, and Stephen Whittle.
  • A contribution to Intersex and After, an issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies edited by Iain Morland in 2009. Notable contributors included Alice Dreger, Iain Morland, and Vernon Rosario.[13]
  • Femmes of Power : Exploding Queer Feminities, co-authored with Ulrika Dahl. Published by Serpent's Tail[14] in 2008

TV/Film Credits[edit]

She appeared in Gabriel Baur's pioneering film, Venus Boyz[15]

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. ^ a b Reed, Christopher (2011). Art and Homosexuality: A History of Ideas. USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 237–239. ISBN 9780199830442.
  3. ^ Steinbock, Eliza (2014-11-01). "Generative Negatives Del LaGrace Volcano's Herm Body Photographs". TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly. 1 (4): 539–551. doi:10.1215/23289252-2815228. ISSN 2328-9252.
  4. ^ Volcano, Del LaGrace; Prosser, Jay; Steinbock, Eliza (2016-01-01). Horlacher, Stefan, ed. Transgender and Intersex: Theoretical, Practical, and Artistic Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan US. pp. 189–224. doi:10.1057/978-1-349-71325-7_8. ISBN 9781137543523.
  5. ^ "Artist's Statement". Del LaGrace Volcano official website.
  6. ^ Halberstam, J. Jack (2005). In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. USA: NYU Press. p. 178. ISBN 9780814735855.
  7. ^ Levine, JJ (April 2015). "Whipping the Binary". Photography and Culture. 7: 304.
  8. ^ a b "Publications". Del LaGrace Volcano official website.
  9. ^ McLeod Allegra (December 21, 2000). "Sublime Mutations", GaydarNation.
  10. ^ "Sublime Mutations".
  11. ^ Barth, Elisa, ed. (2013). Inter: Erfahrungen intergeschlechtlicher Menschen in der Welt der zwei Geschlechter (in German). Berlin: NoNo Verlag. ISBN 978-3-942471-03-9.
  12. ^ Morland, Iain; Willox, Annabelle, eds. (November 2004). Queer Theory. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781403916938. Retrieved 2014-12-26.
  13. ^ Morland, Iain, ed. (2009). Intersex and After. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 15. ISBN 978-0-8223-6705-5. Retrieved 2014-12-26.
  14. ^ 1957-, Volcano, Del Lagrace; Ulrika, Dahl (2008-01-01). Femmes of power : exploding queer femininities. Serpent's Tail. ISBN 9781846686641. OCLC 473068316.
  15. ^ The Advocate, 2 Sep 2003 The Advocate, p. 55, at Google Books

External links[edit]