From 1855 to 1902, Hannah Cullwicks photographed
self-portraits engaged in domestic labour.
Cleaning floors, blistered hands and shining
shoes are the focus. Cullwicks’ fascination with
and servitude was directly connected to her
sexuality. In her letters and self-portraits she
expressed her love of a submissive role, which in
current terms translates to BDSM (Bondage,
Domination, Sadism and Masochism). In these
images, Cullwicks dons a leather bracelet to
indicate her sexual position as well as a lock and
chain that only her “master” has the key to.
Curator, Renate Lorenz discovered Culwicks’
self-portraits at an archive in the UK that she
shared with Pauline Boudry a video artist from
Boudry uses Victorian imagery inspired by
Berlin-based drag performer, Werner Hirsch, to
perform the actions, costumes and poses of
Cullwicks’ photographs. These historical pictures
are reworked in a contemporary context, which is
emphasized by using queer photographer Del LaGrace
Volcano’s series Daddy Boy Dykes in the
background. Normal Work negates an overly
simplistic view of sexuality and labour, by
challenging viewers to look past the familiar into
portraiture’s role in archiving identity and
photography’s growth into new technologies.
Curated by Renate Lorenz.
Gallery 44 gratefully
acknowledges the cooperation of the
Goethe-Institut Toronto and the generous support
of the Inside Out Film Festival.
Curated by Renate Lorenz