I wondered about the possibilities for treating objects as teachers who might be able to assist us in developing different ways of understanding and experiencing our bodies. Sculptures as dance teachers? As gym coaches? As lovers? I was particularly interested in our tendency to understand art that relates to non-traditional genders and sexualities primarily in terms of representation, seeking evidence of LGBT subjects or authors in the work through depiction. Queer art tends to be thought of as art that announces itself as queer through a variety of tropes, ranging from documentary photography to material references such as glitter or leather. The “object lessons” framework was intended to eschew these tendencies in favor of an interest in phenomenological relationships with artworks, particularly sculptures, which could produce new, odd, or altered states of embodied being that might enable us to better develop, recognize, respect, and cultivate different forms of gendered living. Can objects help us rethink gender on a bodily level?

Sophie Rogers