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“I Can’t Tell You Why That’s Queer, But I Can Tell You That It Is”

“I Can’t Tell You Why That’s Queer, But I Can Tell You That It Is”

A colorful graphic design with text that says, "What Makes A Work of Art Queer? The Gayest Generation podcast host Jacob Gorski in conversation with UMMA curator Sean Kramer" next to photos of two young white men

Sean Kramer, a previous Irving Stenn, Jr. Curatorial Fellow at UMMA, recently sat down for an interview about his upcoming UMMA exhibition Oh honey...A queer reading of the collection, which will be opening at UMMA this fall (“COVID gods willing,” Sean joked). He spoke with Jacob Gorski, an Ann Arbor District Library staff member and host of the podcast The Gayest Generation.

Sean’s show, which consists of objects in UMMA’s permanent collection, takes a look at a variety of works (including paintings, photographs, sculptures, and textiles) from the last hundred years or so through Sean's own lens as a queer graduate student. The curator noted that he wanted to give the show a queer title, hence choosing “Oh honey,” which he described as a catch-all expression.

During the recording, the podcast host Jacob Gorski remarked on the title: “I can’t tell you why it's queer, but I can tell you it is." Sean pointed out how that encapsulates his whole method of picking pieces for the show–going off intuition that an object “is queer to me,” despite artist’s identity or intentions. As he wrote for the show's online exhibition, available to view now, “How does my own situated point of view, as a queer man / graduate student / art historian at the University of Michigan, frame my reading of what is present and absent in this collection? And how can I translate my encounters to you — the online museum visitor who maybe just wanted to see sex stuff?”

Check out Sean and Jacob’s full conversation below:

Check out 'Oh, honey...'

Explore the online exhibition for Oh, honey... a queer reading of the collection

View Exhibition

Lynn Davis, Ken Moody, New York City (Dancer #31), 1985–1990, gelatin silver print on paper. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James Agah, Class of 1989 (BBA), 2012/2.99. Copyright Lynn Davis/Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York.