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This article is taken from PN Review 204, Volume 38 Number 4, March - April 2012.

Je est beaucoup d'autres: Hide/Seek Gregory Woods
Berenice Abbott says, 'I am a photographer, not a lesbian.' But who is she when she is in bed with her lover and the camera is in another room? Since she does take photographs, the reverse statement would not work either: 'I am a lesbian, not a photographer.' Why can she not be both, and many other things besides? Why do nationality, sex, sexuality and employment - perhaps especially the latter - so greedily take possession of identity that little else is allowed a look in? Well, what else might identify us? The face, of course. Rembrandt after Rembrandt after Rembrandt. Or, failing that, Warhol after Warhol after Warhol. Or, failing that, ID card after ID card after ID card.

For the short period in which homosexuality has constituted an identity, consolidated by a political programme of agitation for equal rights - that is, ever since the coining of the term 'homosexual' in the 1860s empowered the group so named to fight for the repeal of Paragraph 175 of the German penal code - it has made some sense to imagine the face of the individual with that identity, female or male. Before long now, that will cease to be the case, wherever homosexuality is seen less as an identity than as a lifestyle, achievable not politically but economically, bought off the peg with the pink pound and accessorised with marriage certificates, adopted children, army uniforms, and of course exquisitely chosen fabrics - the whole panoply of assimilationist knick-knacks. ...


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