With increasing visibility for queer folks and queer stories in popular culture (see: the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye, FX’s Pose, and RuPaul’s Drag Race—now in its eleventh season), it’s important to take a look at how we got here. This session of Optics commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, and examines how Stonewall’s legacy has contributed to a visual language of queer resistance over the last 50 years. How have images of queerness—and those made from a queer lens—troubled and expanded (inter)national understandings of human rights, community, anger, and celebration?

Join journalist and curator Sarah Burke, photographer Naima Green, performance and queer studies scholar Kareem Khubchandani, and series host Reya Sehgal for this meditation on what the queer eye can see, featuring a special performance by Untitled Queen.

This is a free event, but please register in advance. ICP Members have access to preferred seating in our reserved members’ section.

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About the Series

Hosted by artist and curator Reya Sehgal, Optics: A New Way of Seeing Contemporary Culture invites critics, artists, and imagemakers to analyze the pictures that shape contemporary culture and current events. The series considers the images, visual communications, and vision-related technologies that impact our times. In our current image-saturated society of 24-hour news cycles, social media, and memes, an understanding of the ways in which pictures are shaped, produced, distributed, remixed, and go viral is vital to an understanding of culture itself.


Sarah Burke is a journalist and curator based in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing focuses on art, identity, social justice, technology, and the intersections therein. She is currently special projects editor at Broadly, co-host of the podcast Queerly Beloved, and co-curator of the series Living Room Light Exchange New York.

Naima Green is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator currently living in Mexico City. She holds an MFA from ICP-Bard, an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a BA from Barnard College. Green presented two solo exhibitions in 2018—All the black language and A Collective Utterance. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at MASS MoCA, International Center of Photography, Houston Center for Photography, Bronx Museum, BRIC, Arsenal Gallery, and Macy Gallery. Green has been an artist-in-residence at the Bronx Museum, Vermont Studio Center, and recipient of the Myers Art Prize at Columbia University. Her artist books are collected by MoMA Library and International Center of Photography Library.

Kareem Khubchandani is the Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor in the Department of Drama & Dance and the Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University. He is currently working on a book project titled Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (U. Michigan Press), a performance ethnography of queer social spaces in Bangalore and Chicago. As his alter ego LaWhore Vagistan, he has performed at the Austin International Drag Festival, Mustard Seed South Asian Film Festival (Philadelphia), the Asia Society (New York City), AS220 (Providence) Queens Museum, Jack Theater (Brooklyn), Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Not Festival (Riverside), and A.R.T. Oberon (Cambridge).

Untitled Queen is a visual artist, drag queen, and graphic designer living and working in Brooklyn, NY. She creates elaborate, colorful handmade DIY costumes and sculptural body props that are used in intensely emotional and narrative drag performances. Through these means she challenges and dismantles constructed binaries of American body, thought, and ideology. Her recent work is a rumination on post-colonial American citizenship and its repercussions and origins. matthewdeleon.com

Reya Sehgal is an interdisciplinary artist and curator based in New York City. She has curated exhibitions and public programs at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, Brown University, Queens Museum, Project for Empty Space, Knockdown Center, and BRIC. Her artistic work has been seen, and experienced, at the DUMBO Arts Festival, AS220, Distillery Gallery, RISD Museum, Arab American National Museum, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Sehgal is a member of the DIVERSITY FELLOWS! performance collaborative, and currently serves as the post-graduate fellow in visual culture at the International Center of Photography.


Image: Anthony Friedkin, Michelle, Female Impersonator, “C'est La Vie” Club, North Hollywood, 1972. International Center of Photography, Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon, 2011 (2011.69.1) © Anthony Friedkin