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A Genderfluid Fairytale
In the art world, we still can't get enough of the relationship between an artist and muse. From Pab...
Fempire 29 Nov 2017

A Genderfluid Fairytale
Artist and Associate Curator, Museum of Sex, New York City


In the art world, we still can’t get enough of the relationship between an artist and muse. From Pablo Picasso or Andy Warhol to John Currin – they all had these out-of-this-world women to inspire their creations and not seldom, they had an affair. Mostly, we talk about male artists having female muses, but photographer Lissa Rivera breaks up with this tradition and her own muse is her genderqueer boyfriend, BJ.

The idea for a series of works called “Beautiful Boy” was also developed, rather unconventionally – in the subway, where BJ revealed to Lissa that he wore dresses at home, though was struggling to find expression outside in a world often hostile to male displays of feminity. They fell in love with the idea to start this project as an experiment and in the end also fell in love with each other.


In the art world currently I find most exciting that…
People once marginalized are making an aggressive push to occupy institutions. That women are creating a space in the art world to explore their desires in a way that is in their control.

Number of unanswered mails in your account today…
As an active artist and full-time curator, I confess, I am guilty of a handful! I receive a lot of submissions to exhibit at the Museum and it is hard to respond to all, though I would like to.

My perfect working outfit…
It’s all about the hair, everything else is secondary…
My favourite new brand discovery…
I discovered Dorothy Iannone this year!
My everyday online art read is…
Have to admit that I read more about art in books than online, unless I am looking to see what is on view or opening. I just co-curated the show NSFW: Female Gaze with Marina Garcia-Vasquez of Creators at VICE. Creators is doing an excellent job covering the artists on view as well as a diverse range of emerging talent.
Your necessary extravagance is
Iced Coffee.


Most ridiculous thing I’ve ever bought…
Oh, where do I start?! For ‘Beautiful Boy’ I tend to buy a lot of extravagant costumes and accessories. For the series set in 1960s Palm Springs, CA, I purchased a rainbow assortment of the most elaborate polyester nighties and peignoirs imaginable. I have gone to an ecclesiastical fabric store and walked away with 40 pounds of remnants. Most recently I went on a bender buying old broken crowns. In my studio there is a shelf dedicated to multicolored ostrich feathers. Then there are the masonic headpieces and the capes. The kimonos. The trunk-load from a retired opera company. The 1930s silk and lace panties. Anything with tassels or fringe. This endeavor is so much about indulging ridiculous fantasies.
My ultimate secret after long working hours…
As well as being my amazing partner and muse, BJ is also my spiritual adviser. He is the most gentle and nurturing being I have encountered. Everyday teaches me how to better care for myself.
Favourite collaboration of the art- and fashion world…
Peggy Guggenheim’s Safilo glasses. Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali. Marchesa Casati and Léon Bakst.
My favourite hashtag…
Artist Shona McAndrew’s hashtag is #effyourbeautystandards. This is by far the best one.
On my office table I always have…
Art books I plan to read, though I am now absorbing them mainly through osmosis.

The most arty city is…
Hmm…NYC has the most arty people, though I can name cities in many other countries that have a richer art history.

Who are the best dressed in the art world…
I have a soft spot for British dandies with good color sense like Cecil Beaton and David Hockney.

Describe yourself with three emojis…

Art world gent I would love to have lunch with…
Mark Dion, he is a mentor, and overall caring, thoughtful and brilliant person—I would love to catch up. Also Jerry Saltz, because he supports artists that I believe in.
Artist(s) we should have on our watch list is/are…
All of the artists in NSFW: Female Gaze. Stacy Leigh and Leigh Ledare (always good to follow two Leighs). Add Naomi Okubo and Željka Blakšić too!
Instagram: @lissa_rivera_
Photos by Lissa Rivera

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