Monday, October 27, 2003

Who's what?

Del LaGrace Volcano

Today I give to you the beautiful art work of Del La Grace Volcano, the London based photographer. I first encountered Del's work in the pages of Scene Out, the now defunct northern queer monthly. Also back in the good old days of my student times in early 90s TCD in Dublin, it was possible to get piblications such as Quim and a fabuluous left wing queer mag the name of which I forget. Between these pages were the exquisite and utterly beautiful photos of Della Grace as he was then known. Most memorable was a series of pictures which appropriated gay male porn (the Tom of Finland genre), with its sleek muscular images transposed alongside classical Grecian images of beauty. Della dressed up girls as boys, moustache-ieod, leather-clad, and for its time - quite a first - girls wearing harnesses and dildos. This was long before the big strap on craze which really only started two years ago. (Like many women, I was - and still am - mesmerised with the joys of appropriating traditionally male or het practices into woman-on-woman intimacy. There is something incredibly intense about, for example, anal practices, when between two women. But enough of that.)

Some of the images were - and are - highly controversial in a women's culture that has largely desexualised itself for fear of being appropriated by women-hating straight males interested only in exploiting it for their only pleasures.

But the best was yet to come - after 37 years of living as a woman, Del La Grace was gripped by his true FTM position, and the debate of whether or not the facial hair is the result of nature or hormone treatment rages on. Meanwhile, the experimentation continues. Very beautiful pictures of FTM - hirthero much much more marginalised than even the most out tranny or transgendered MTF, are a particular favourite of Del's. I find the images often very natural, in contrast to the studio-ised work of Dell's earlier work. However I find it most interesting that Dell has always staying to images of traditional beauty. This is something which is to this day lacking in traditional queer women's art - the fear of appropriation seems to drive women towards destroying the beauty rather than enjoying it.

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