Leah DeVun’s photographic series draws its title from a quotation from Lesbian Land, a published collection of writings by lesbians who founded or lived in women’s intentional communities, sometimes called “womyn’s lands,” in the 1970s-80s. With this show DeVun takes the history of Women & their Work as a jumping off point to ask viewers to consider the nature of queer and feminist space in the past and present. Rita Starpattern, a co-founder of Women & Their Work in 1978 was a lesbian and the gallery was known as an inclusive alternative art space. Many marginalized groups were forming their own spaces at this time as a result of feeling shut out of main stream institutions. There were once many spaces and zines dedicated to feminist activism and artwork, few survive now. DeVun asks: what did a feminist collective space look like three decades ago? What does one look like now?
DeVun’s work combines documentary and staged photography in an effort to collapse and interweave the different generations of lesbian/ transgender/queer people who have been involved in the creation of feminist space, as well as to picture the relationship between utopian ideals and hard-fought reality. Some of her photographs use queer models to recreate images from 1970s lesbian feminist zines such as Country Women, Lesbian Tide, Lesbian Connection, Sinister Wisdom, Dyke, Womanspirit, and other publications. Other photographs were taken on womyn’s lands that are still in existence, evoking the tension between community and isolation that is part of living on lands that are often in remote rural areas.
On the night of the opening the artist will build a new collective women’s space (in the form of a wood structure) as a performance piece. Tools will be put out and viewers are invited to add to this historical reenactment. In addition to her photographs and portraits, DeVun has made light boxes inspired by vintage photographs of street marchers and protesters. These photographs are political and anthemic, an homage to the impressive energy of feminists in the 1970s.