TEE CORINNE: BODIES OF WORK Presented by Jenni Crain at MBnb Ends September 15
MBnb is pleased to present Tee Corinne: Bodies of Work, an evolving presentation of materials relating to the extensive practice of Tee Corinne organized by artist and curator Jenni Crain. The exhibition will be on view from August 11th through September 15th, 2019.
Over the course of the one month, Crain will utilize MBnb as a site to conduct further research into the diverse practice of the late photographer, author, editor, sex educator and lesbian activist. Crain intends to compile her research into a comprehensive proposal for an institutional solo exhibition of the artist's works to be held at a later date. The installation will be subject to shifting iterations as further materials are sourced, introduced or re-presented in alternative methods, thereby allowing visitors access to content that has otherwise become quite rare in its circulation. Further programming in the form of slide presentations - a means of material circulation utilized by Corinne herself - or screenings is likely to be hosted at MBnb during the course of the project.
Tee Corinne (b. 1943, St. Petersburg, FL - 2006, OR) developed a body of work that celebrated Sapphic sexual relationships, placing an emphasis on the promotion of sensual pleasure. As Tamsin Wilton wrote in her essay entitled 'The Erotic Art of Tee Corinne', which is included in Tee Corinne's 2001 publication Intimacies (available for reference at MBnb), "[Corinne's] concern is with lesbians and sex, pure and simple, and she sees sex as central to lesbian identity and community". In her own essay 'Crafting Erotic Imagery', also included within Intimacies, Corinne described her interests, "I make images that bring me pleasure and that seem to be missing in the world around me". These images were frequently printed via a solarization process that Corinne attributed, in part, to preserving the identities of her subjects, and were often reintroduced in multiple artworks, reprinted at various ratios, and cut and compiled into photographic-collages that demonstrate a kaleidoscopic visual effect. Corinne explained that she wanted to create "images complex enough that people would want to stay with them for a long time". Her subjects were almost always lesbian women. These women were typically depicted in the throws of sexual relations, their individual idiosyncrasies highlighted as a "way to expand the boundaries of erotic participation".
In an artist statement entitled 'On Sexual Art' (1993), Corinne wrote, "I believed that reclaiming labial imagery was a route to claiming personal power for women." Quintessential examples of this imagery may be found in two of Corinne's publications included in the collection of materials on view at MBnb. Namely, her now iconic Cunt Coloring Book, first published in 1975, and Yantras of Womanlove: Diagrams of Energy, published in 1982. TheCunt Coloring Book is complete with forty-two pages of line drawings of women's genitals created by the artist between 1973 and the year of publication. Corinne considered coloring as an accessible, pleasurable, exploratory, and almost child-like process through which women could learn about, what she referred to as, "our eternal sexual anatomy". Yantras of Womanlove: Diagrams of Energy includes thirty-four photographs and photographic collages created by Corinne between 1975 and 1982. Many of these photographs represent the aforementioned kaleidoscopic effect for which Corinne's works may be most immediately recognized. Yantras... also includes a number of close-up photographs of women's cunts printed en verso, or, again, in kaleidoscopic abstraction, and also in multiple.
In further works, such as Isis in the Woods (1986) - figured and referred to in Wilton's previously mentioned essay (Intimacies, pg. v) -, close crops of vaginas have been introduced into the landscape. Wilton writes, "Isis in the Woods is a landscape showing sunlight outside a darkened wood, but in the foreground what briefly appeared to be a branch lying in the grass surrounded by leaf mold is suddenly transformed into a woman's labia and pubic hair. It is too simple to see this as just another image of woman-as-landscape, in the familiar male photographic tradition." She continues, "...male photographers generally confine this romanticizing genre to coding buttocks/breast/belly as curving hills, or the nude female trunk as the torso of a tree. It is only when confronted with the shocking fact that Corinne's trick makes the viewer look closely at a woman's cunt that we realize how invisible this part of women's bodies has been within the pseudo-romantic male fantasy type genre." Wilton concludes, "Corinne's celebration of woman in the woodland focuses on women's sexuality, the seat of female sexual pleasure. In other words, precisely what is most often erased in the woman as landscape-genre." Further examples of such works constitute what Corinne called The Isis and Madonna Series.
Additional materials on view at MBnb include exhibition copies of photographs, photographic collages, and slides donated by the artist to The Lesbian Herstory Archives, New York in the early 1980s; further publications produced by Tee Corinne comprised of her collected photographic works, erotica, and drawings, ranging from her prints of lesbian women throughout history to a collection of landscape drawings, among others. In addition, a variety of alternative sources acknowledging and assessing the artist's works, such as Harmony Hammond's Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History and Laura Cottingham's Seeing Through the Seventies: Essays on Feminism and Art both published in the year 2000, will be available for visitors' reference. Since Tee Corinne's work was frequently rejected by exhibition spaces and galleries due to the rendering of its subject matter as overwhelmingly explicit or pornographic, various publications associated with sex education and lesbian feminism offered outlets for the distribution of her imagery and writings. Examples of historical publications that include reproductions of Corinne's photographs, such as Sinister Wisdom - 'a journal of words and pictures for the lesbian imagination in all women' - Volume 3 (1977), the cover of which includes an image by Tee Corinne, or the 'Sex Issue' of Heresies(1981), have been reprinted for handling by the public.
A special thanks is dedicated to Saskia Scheffer, archives coordinator of the The Lesbian Herstory Archives, and to The Lesbian Herstory Archives at large for their paramount support of this project. Each of the exhibition copies of Tee Corinne's original works and materials have been scanned, printed and donated for the duration of this presentation from the collection of The Lesbian Herstory Archives, New York. Further gratitude is extended to Branden Wallace, registrar of the Leslie-Lohman Museum, and to the Leslie-Lohman Museum at large for allowing access into their collections and library archives for the purposes of Crain's research. A final thank you is dedicated to Janice Guy and Joe Scanlan for their support and encouragement of this project.
Corinne was raised in South Florida and later moved to New Orleans where she began her artistic studies at Newcomb College, Tulane University between 1962 and 1963. She transferred to the University of South Florida where she would receive her BA in printmaking and painting with minors in English and art history in 1965. In 1968, Corinne received her MFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Corinne moved to San Francisco in 1973 after divorcing her husband and became romantically involved with women for the second time in her life, following 'experimentation' in her teenage years. In the early 1970s in San Francisco, Corinne took classes at the Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality, where she learned to organize her thinking through erotic imagery. It is around this time that Corinne began to draw other women's genitals after drawing her own since 1970. In 1974, WomanSpiritMagazine publishes a selection of these drawings within their second edition. It is in 1975 that Corinne begins photographing women kissing and making love, often printing through the solarized process that she learned whilst a student at Pratt Institute. Corinne began to experiment with two-dimensional constructions built up of repeated images in 1979. From 1979 through 1981, Corinne was a co-facilitator of the Feminist Photography Ovulars, which was a seasonal series of workshops and seminars that took place each summer during this three year period to offer support and community to female photographers, especially those working remotely. Corinne was the cofounder ofThe Blatant Image: A Magazine of Feminist Photography that produced three editions between 1981 and 1983. Corinne won a Lambda Literary Award in 1990 of her work as editor of the erotic anthology Intricate Passions. Corinne was a cofounder and co-chair of the Gay & Lesbian Caucus, and she also cofounded the Women's Caucus for Art and the Lesbian & Bisexual Caucus. In 1991, Corinne was chosen by the Lambda Book Report as one of the fifty most influential lesbian / gay individuals of the preceding decade. She received the Women's Caucus for Art President's Award for service to women in the arts in 1997. In 2000, Corinne received the Abdill-Ellis Lambda Lifetime Achievement Award. In the last years of her life, Corinne created the photographic series Cancer in Our Lives, which was comprised of portraits of lesbian writers and artists and documented the impact of their experiences with terminal cancer. Corinne herself was diagnosed with cancer just months after the passing of her partner Beverly Brown in 2005. Corinne succumbed to the disease in 2006.
Most recently, Jenni Crain (b. 1991, New York) collaborated towards the development of March Avery's exhibition at Blum & Poe New York (June 27-September 14, 2019), contributing a press release and catalogue essay accompanying the exhibition. The development of this exhibition followed a solo exhibition of March Avery's works curated by Jenni Crain in Barnard College's Louise McCagg Gallery in the Spring of 2019. Further recent curatorial endeavors include exhibitions and programming at 55 Walker, New York; Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; and Shanaynay, Paris; among others. Crain cofounded and codirected Topless, a seasonal gallery based in Rockaway Beach, NY, from summer 2014-2016. Crain is the founder / organizer of O.O. & M.M. (Only Once & Many More), an ongoing curatorial project that encourages adaptability and deviation from standardized models of exhibition-making. As an artist, her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Octagon, Milan (2019); Gordon Robichaux, New York (2019, 2018); Baba Yaga, Hudson, NY (2018); 321 Gallery, Brooklyn (2017); KANSAS, New York (2016); Y Gallery, New York (2015); and Artist Curated Projects, Los Angeles (2014); among others. Crain has been the director of kaufmann repetto Milan, New York since January 2016. She will be departing her current position this September in order to pursue her Masters degree in Curatorial Studies at CCS Bard.
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