Sex VariantsSex Variants (On Being Looked At)
Brody Weaver with voice acting from Bronwyn McGuiness and Excel Garay
Book, table, chairs, audio dome, vinyl, digital prints
Wall text excerpt (full wall text available here):
I want to tell you a story. But first, our characters...
Jan Gay, a lesbian feminist activist-researcher born in Germany of American parents, collected hundreds of case studies of lesbians living in Paris, London, New York, and Berlin with techniques she had from Magnus Hirschfeild in Berlin's Institute for Sexual Science.
Robert Latou Dickinson, a prominent American gynaecologist and leading figure behind the American birth control movement, believed that sexual pleasure was key to the maintenance of marriage and family and saw birth control as enabling these conditions. He viewed homosexuality as a form of arrested development and that through studying it, one can learn more about heterosexuality.
This audio-based participatory installation takes stock of a 1941 medical publication titled Sex Variants: A Study of Homosexual Patterns. Through telling the story of the book’s production, the work highlights the role of power and co-op- tion in the institutionaliza- tion of community-based knowledge. By having my dear transfemme friends read aloud the first per- son narrative of “research subjects,” we bring to the fore their bravery, hones- ty, and learned skills in navigating a world where sex deviating from the heterosexual norm was criminalised, despite their crystallisation in a printed text which sought to objectify them to the gaze of medicine and eugenics.