Anyone who thinks RuPaul’s Drag Race was the show that launched drag art into our cultural zeitgeist wouldn’t be wrong. But it’s important not to disregard artists who have been using drag to critique class, consumerism, race, colonialism, and the Aids crisis of the 1980s, for many decades.
DRAG: Self-portraits and Body Politics, the Haywood gallery’s latest exhibition, is careful not to favour style over substance. In addition to showcasing over 30 drag artists, the exhibition will consider drag’s history from the 1960s until now. Drag kings and queens, as well as bio queens (female performers who adopt the style of male drag queens) will be presented in a myriad of ways. Behold them in their full faces of glam – emulating larger than life stage personas – to more intimate and understated portraits, all highlighting drag’s immensely transformative nature. Expect to see well-known names from Pierre Molinier, Robert Mapplethorpe and Cindy Sherman, alongside Adam Christensen and Victoria from the newer generation. For anyone who’s interested in gender and identity politics, and seeing how drag continually challenges and disrupts both in refreshing ways – this one’s for you.