In the 1980s and 1990s, amid the growing visibility of issues such as gender inequality, LGBTQ rights, and queer politics, performance art became an important medium for protest, expression, and catharsis. Ron Athey, Karen Finley, and Ron Vawter, among others, exposed themselves physically and emotionally in works that ranged from darkly funny to heart-wrenching to enraged. They each used their performances to tell stories about personal experiences, revealing intimate details of their lives to reflect on larger issues affecting the country, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and LGBTQ persecution. The pieces they created offered bold, sometimes visceral representations of sexuality, death and dying, and social justice.
Taking a distinctly progressive stance, the Walker Art Center championed these individuals and their desire to address politically charged or taboo topics through programs such as Cultural Infidels and Dyke Night. With materials drawn from the Walker’s archives, A Different Kind of Intimacy explores these groundbreaking series, highlights several noteworthy performances, and discusses both the support and critique these artists faced—providing a renewed understanding of this radical moment in performing arts history.
Changing installations in the Best Buy Aperture highlight materials from the Walker Collections and Archives & Library.