Alas, the impossible has finally arrived! The art muse and androgynous actress Tilda Swinton is curating her first art exhibit with Aperture, the New York-based book press and magazine. She is giving us a throwback to Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel “Orlando” which tackles gender fluidity. This book, which is set in the 16th century, looks at the life of one character that lives for 300 years, changing gender along the way. According to Swinton, Woolf thought the creative mind was androgynous. “I have come to see Orlando far less as being about gender than about the flexibility of the fully awake and sensate spirit,” says Swinton in a statement. “In Orlando, fluidity is not an aberration but an inextricable element of human experience.”
This prevailing theme throughout the novel – and all the adventures uncovered along the way, are at the heart of the magazine’s summer issue, too, and in this new exhibition which opened May 23. It’s what “navigates the mutability and limitlessness of human expression.”
What art is there to see? So much.
To start, expect boundary-blurring photography, as the exhibition includes new works from Jamal Nxedlana (known for building his fashion label Missshape), as well as striking portraits of South African performance art duo “FAKA” which were shot in Johannesburg.
There are also photos of the pioneering transgender actress and writer Rosalyne Blumenstein, taken by Zackary Drucker, as well as Collier Schorr’s series documenting the gender transition of one model, Casil McArthur.
Of course, Swinton stars as herself in the magazine’s issue in rarely-seen pre-production photographs from when she starred in the 1992 film “Orlando,” directed by Sally Potter, where Swinton plays a 16th century nobleman who has a disastrous affair with a Russian princess. There’s also an archival portrait of Woolf which was taken by an anonymous photographer. Swinton reflects on her role in Orlando, which might have been over 20 years ago, but still has her thinking: “Where I once assumed it was a book about eternal youth,” she said, “I now see it as a book about growing up, about learning to live.”
Text by Nadja Sayej
Images via Anothermag, pinterest