Tilda Swinton Curates Photography Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando
Jun 26, 2019
Ksenia M. Soboleva

In her introduction, Swinton notes that she views Orlando as “being far less only about gender and far more about the profound flexibility of the fully awake and sensate spirit.” She is supported in this vision by various writing contributions to this issue, which include the usual suspects such as Jack Halberstam, Eileen Myles, and Maggie Nelson. However, this vision does not shine through in the exhibition. There are a few notable exceptions; Sepuya thoughtfully addresses the blatant racism that takes place on the first page of Woolf’s novel, where Orlando is found playing with a decapitated head of a Moor. Lynn Hershman Leeson’s documentation of the five-year-long performance (1973-1978) she did as a fictional persona named Roberta Breitner demonstrates that as early as 1973, she was exploring the false notion of an authentic self, visualizing a fluid identity that is not necessarily connected to gender…