Queer Art Journalism Webinar Event, a collaboration with the LGBTQ Soc and The Courtauldian
by Henry Kauntze| 12 December 2020
Photo of Emily Jessica Turner
Photo of Jake Hall
Attendants of last Monday’s Queer Art Journalism webinar event were fortunate to hear both Jake Hall and Emily Jessica Turner speak widely on their experiences within the industry of queer art writing, as well as their own opinions on how it can be adapted for best practice.
Jake took the floor first. A non-binary freelance journalist, Jake has written previously for VICE, i-D and Dazed Digital, and is also studying for a PhD at the University of Birmingham exploring the relationship between queer theory and high fashion.
They began by explaining an early transition from fashion news writing to more creative, freelance work. Jake explained how this allowed them to write what they really wanted to write, whilst also navigating queer art histories. Looking back at the past through a lens determined by the present was a key theme in their talk, commenting such in regards to certain exhibitions, for example, in Tate Britain’s landmark survey of queer British art is a hymn to resistance, an article by Jake. Fundamentally, though, listeners learn how much the people with whom you work shape induvial experiences in a journalistic career. I found it particularly noteworthy that Jake turned down several interviews with Times Radio as they may be framed in a certain way, perhaps surrounding issues of transphobia. More issues within the field of art journalism were discussed, like the inaccessibility of queer theory, problems of discriminative pay gaps and higher expectations from a queer journalist. Ultimately, Jake advised an attitude of sensitivity which I feel is crucial in any field of employment, but especially so within areas like those Jake mentioned.
Shortly after, Emily delivered an equally intriguing talk. She is likewise studying for a PhD at the University of Sussex but also dabbles in picture-making, specialising in nineteenth-century writing, cabaret culture and mental health. An apprentice journalist, Emily focuses her writing on social commentary in culture, for example, within queer heritage events like the Museum of Transology. Out of a range of issues discussed, I found Emily’s ideas regarding the ‘queer female gaze’ thought-provoking, having only ever come across the ‘male gaze’ in my previous studies. She used examples such as Portrait of a Lady on Fire to question how we think of visual language in relation to historical portraits of women. Again, the experience of being a queer journalist was reinforced, and problems of being such in a workplace with patriarchal roots were astutely addressed.
Overall, these were two incredibly insightful presentations about an increasingly important industry. It was a pleasure to attend!