Lesbian Photography - Jill Posener  

Lesbian Photography - Jill Posener
The following text is based on an interview with Jill Posner which appeared in Die Andere Welt (Berlin) .

Cassell's the London publishers have recently issued a book by Susie Bright (Sexpert) and Jill Posener (Photographer) on the work of lesbian photographers. The book by the two former publishers of “On Our Backs" is a collection from the mid-70's up to today. The following text is based on an interview with Jill Posner which appeared in Die Andere Welt (Berlin) .

Lesbian Photography

The book is a collection of 165 photographs, in both colour and black and white, with nine new essays from Susie and an introduction which deals with her ideas of lesbian erotics and the pioneer lesbian photographers who used lesbian imagery in mainstream society without it being noticed.
Susie Bright and Jill Posener are agreed, for example, that Madonna's Sex-books would not have been possible without the groundwork of lesbian photographers of the last 20 years. The C. Crawford/k. d. Lang Vanity Fair title page would not have been possible without this kind of satirical view of lesbian life.
Susie's view of things is unusual so the book is divided into chapters such as Dyke, Butch, Cunt and Sex with an introductory essay. Jill collected the photographs.


They came across women like T. Korren, whose early photos from the 70's - a double picture of a cunt laid on a landscape, was some of the earliest lesbian photography.
This was a new, feminist-coloured consciousness of lesbians.
There are people like Morgan Gwellmould whose photography is so widespread people don't know they are looking at her work. Or Della Grace, who shocked both the feminist and the lesbian communities, with her photographs in which she also researched into her own sexuality, which became ever more perverse, the deeper she dug.
Honey Lee Catrell is almost unknown, but when you see her work, the breadth of her palette is amazing. Pioneers were sought out, but also new unpublished photographs - which took some 18 months.

The photos range from simple, gentle, to the seriously pornographic. Some people don't take to the S-M pictures, but Jill thought without them their book would have done lesbian sex no good service.
There was discussion over some of the photos in the book, and there will be four missing from the European edition. In contrast to male pornography, for the two it was important what happened before(the act) the kissing, the looks, the clothes, the symbols of lesbian sexuality.


According to Jill, in women's photography you also find women over 40 or 50, women who are not young and beautiful. Photos of fat women are not regarded as beautiful, but they exist. Take Katie Niles, (Seattle) for example. The women in her photos are big, over 35 or 40 - that is not very attractive for young people, but they are not the only ones who want to feel desire.
Jill asserted she seldom saw a male photographers sex-photo which did not reflect male, physical beauty-ideals.
“When I look at photos taken by gays, I often have the impression of a standpoint which is very similar. Many beautiful bodies, mostly young, often people who are coloured, but almost always handsome.
For lesbian photographers a butch -dyke, half in the shadow, can be very erotic perhaps with a leather jacket on, and a slight hint of her cunt. This shows the contrasts between the female and the male und the ,femme", the hint of sex, the hint of the hidden world which has been that in which lesbians have lived.' Some people have looked at the book and said, “They aren't sex-photos!" More of them are concerned with the question of identity,

Jill added, “I am a photographer. The fact that I have taken lesbian sex-photographs has little meaning for the major part of my work as photo-journalist."

Re-translated from the German by Colin de la Motte-Sherman

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