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) .
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but also new unpublished photographs - which took some 18 months.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
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