‘Coming Out’ has recently opened at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, this exciting new exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. It is thought to be the largest LGBTQ+ exhibition in the UK and brings together the work of various artists exploring themes of gender and sexuality. This includes works such as Hadrian Pigott’s Boy, ?, Girl (1994) which deals with problems surrounding gendered products that enforce stereotypes separating male and female behaviour.
Another work which stands out is Grayson Perry’s work Claire’s Coming Out Dress (2000), which the artist wore when he came out as a transvestite. Perry enjoys wearing bizarre and exciting outfits stating that “when I walk into a room, I want people to look at the dress and not me.”
Other compelling works are Maud Sulter’s Terpischore and Calliope (1989). These photographs are reminiscent of Kehinde Wiley, placing black people into historical painting settings in which they have been previously over-looked and ignored. The works have a similar air of grace and dignity, exploring not only issues of gender, but also of race.
Also exhibited are a selection of Vanley Burke’s photographs taken in Wolverhampton, bringing the topics dealt with in the rest of the exhibition closer to home. These photos document demonstrators marching against a 1986 Local Government Act which decided not to promote anything to do with homosexuality in schools.
The diversity of works in the immersive exhibition space of BMAG’s Gas Hall make this exhibition one of the most engaging and significant exhibitions in the Midlands this year.
‘Coming Out’ is open until 15th April 2018. The programme of events organised by BMAG to accompany the exhibition can be found on their blog.