29.06.2023  •  Art NEWS

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RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s’ - a documentary by Chloe Sherman at Berlin’s Galerie f3 Freiraum für Fotografie and as a coffee-table book at Hatje Cantz

In the 1990s, San Francisco was the stronghold of queer life. Young queer people, artists and free spirits flocked to the city to experiment with art, style, gender and identity, to be free, and to live their lives independent of mainstream society. A style-defining subculture emerged: affordable rents paved the way for bars, clubs, tattoo stores, art galleries, cafes, bookstores, and women-owned businesses. A new wave of feminism allowed gender identities to be explored, and butch/femme culture reached a peak.

Chloe Sherman (b. 1969, New York) came to San Francisco in 1991 to study fine art photography at the San Francisco Art Institute. As an art student, she began photographing San Francisco’s lesbian and queer scene. Inspired by Del LaGrace Volcano’s photographs of the London lesbian scene, Sherman captured her own world of femmes, butches, punks and studs, filling an entire wall cabinet with 35mm negatives. With the nuanced eye of an insider, she documented an evolving community that resolutely rebelled against prevailing cultural norms and developed its own unique rules for dealing with common gender ascriptions and social coexistence.

While pursuing my BFA in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in the 1990s, I began documenting a generation of young, self-identified queers in the Mission District. Rent was affordable, and gay youth, outcasts, artists, and free spirits migrated to San Francisco to find one another. The sense of community was palpable as a queer cultural renaissance unfolded. Bars, clubs, tattoo shops, galleries, cafes, bookstores, and women-owned businesses proliferated. A new wave of feminism embraced gender bending, and butch/femme culture flourished.

I was impressed by the collective creativity, support, pride, and strident defiance of cultural norms. This subculture emerged against the backdrop of mainstream society. All shot on 35mm film, my photographs from this vibrant era connect current and future generations to the pulse of the city during a unique time when difference and homecoming were unapologetically celebrated.” Chloe Sherman, 2023.


For 30 years, the photographs of that period were stored forgotten in the photographer’s archive. RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s presents the outstanding and historically significant photographs to an audience outside the USA for the first time. Chloe Sherman‘s exhibition captures the rebellious spirit of the era and candidly portrays a forward-thinking time.

The exhibition is on display at Berlin’s F3 Freiraum für Fotografie (30 June – 3 September, 2023) and in parallel at the Schlomer Haus Gallery in San Francisco. Also appearing is a coffee-table book at Hatje Cantz. On 2 July, the Berlin gallery is offering a guided photo tour (English) with Chloe Sherman at 11:00 am.

GoSee fhochdrei.org/ausstellungen

 
'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

 
'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

 
'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

 
'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

 
'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

'RENEGADES. San Francisco: Queer Life in the 1990s' by Chloe Sherman at f3 - freiraum für fotografie, Berlin

 
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