See how feminist art from the 1970s to the present has played with gender identity in the exhibition The Intersectional Self at the 8th Floor gallery (until 19 May). Some of the works are playful or wry (yet no less insightful), such as Ana Mendieta’s 1972 work Untitled (Facial Hair Transplants), a suite of photographs in which Mendieta puts on her face the beard of a male classmate at the University of Iowa. Others are more raw, like Abigail DeVille’s assemblage sculpture, Title: Untitled (Till, Martin, Garner, Brown) (2016), which addresses black male victims of police violence. One particularly compelling focus of the show is its examination of families, with works like a photograph by Catherine Opie of a lesbian couple in a pool, one heavily pregnant, from her Domestic series. Also included is a self-portrait by Opie of herself bare-chested and breastfeeding her baby son that melds the Madonna and Child theme with a play on the butch/femme dichotomy in lesbian culture.
The Japan Society brings conversations about non-binary gender expression to Edo-period Japan (1603-1868) in the exhibition A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints (10 March-11 June). At the time, adolescent males were known as Wakashu (“beautiful youths”), a gender outside of men or women, with its own specific dress and hairstyle. Wakashu were considered appropriate and desirable sexual partners for both men and women. See the different ways Wakashu were depicted through around 70 woodblock prints and paintings on scrolls and screens and personal items like lacquered hair combs. The show also looks at other gender expressions in Edo-period Japan, such as female prostitutes who wore the Wakashu’s distinctive shaved hairstyle and men’s overcoats (one is shown dominating a male client in a risqué print). Visitors “can take a big historic journey with us, and hopefully come out of it with a knowledge of the past that might help inform the present conversation” on gender identity, says the curator, Michael Chagnon.