- Words Gem Stokes
- Photography Ruth Aber
- Curation Artist and archivist Atalanta Kernick (of the Rebel Dykes)
- Curation Artist and cultural producer, Kat Hudson (of Lesley Magazine)
A brand-new take on a historic queer archival show, the Rebel Dykes community are back with a vengeance to demonstrate the importance of lesbian art in the flesh.
The Rebel Dykes took a sapphic shape in the ‘80s as a Feminist collective. With tongue-in-cheek and camera in hand, these artists bridged the gaps within the queer community. Now 40 years on, art, sex, and activism reconvene at London’s Space Station Sixty-Five with a fresh take on queer cultural histories. Funded by Arts Council England, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the David Family Foundation, The Rebel Dykes Art and Archive show is a must-see for all and is here to teach young queers a thing or two about their history and future in kind.
The exhibition’s big pink entrance is garnished with a striking painting by Sadie Lee, showcasing a subject with a bold fist emerging between the flies of their pinstripe suit. As soon as guests pass the threshold it’s immediately apparent that they’re stepping into a space of queer memories and moments. Art pieces with a multitude of limbs, colours, and emotions infiltrate the senses and invite commentary on what it really meant and means to be a dyke.
Naturalistic, powerful paintings of butches, femmes, and stems, and archival photography of pride events over decades take guests through the looking glass of queer life. Breaths (and pixie cuts) are closely cropped amongst the stunning, vulnerable artwork across the space. Cheeky comedy like a banana poked through a suspended strap-on, and the satire-infused animations of Kate Jessops creates the light-hearted, playful atmosphere of Rebel Dykes we’ve come to know and love. There really is something for everyone, and every perspective is represented.
Project manager Siobhan Fahey explains that “for the Rebel Dykes History Project, our aim is to create a dialogue and community between generations of queers.” This exhibition comes across less dialogical and more illuminating for visitors, as younger and older artists alike have excavated the true essence of dyke culture. Young artists such as Autojektor and Bella Podpadec speak animatedly about their powerful work, and of the importance of being a part of the Rebel Dykes exhibition and having a recorded contribution toward queer history. For Podpadec representation is key – championed in every aspect of their life, including in their role as rock star in the band Dream Wife.
“It is so exciting to be part of an exhibition exploring the intergenerational continuum of Dyke art! Growing up rurally I didn’t have any queer elders to look up to and it is deeply enriching and important to understand the art and community being created amongst my peers within a wider context of radical gays making radical art across time! Life would have been so much easier if I had seen this show as a teen.”
Podpadec’s cacophony of colour in their Tour Support Drawings are evocative, representing emotion-filled moments from their 2018 tour. Bella also finds themself displayed in the art of Kat Hudson – one of The Rebel Dykes Art and Archive Show’s expert curators. Speaking to Hudson, it is clear like all the project’s collaborators, that her passion runs deep, making the exhibit all the more special.
Speaking on the Rebel Dykes’ archival focus, Hudson is confident in the community’s ability to transcend our covid-restrictive present and continue the work of the Rebel Dykes to excavate legacies and create new ones.
“The exhibition is really expansive, and it will continue to evolve.” – Kat Hudson
Rebellion, discovery, and possibility – The Rebel Dykes art and archive show is an unmissable experience, especially for the LGBTQI+ community, and continues the ground-breaking work of uniting intergenerational queer communities, whilst showcasing some bloody good art.
We can’t wait to see what The Rebel Dykes will do next. For the present, The Rebel Dykes Art and Archive Show runs from June 25th to September 17th 2021 and is open from Thursday – Saturday, 12-6pm at Space Station Sixty-Five, Building One, 373 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PT.