PULP (ongoing series)
Oil on stretched canvas
8 paintings, each 70 x 42"
“The Delicate Vice” (1963), “The Third Sex” (1959), “The Narrow Line” (1963), and “Satan was a Lesbian” (1966), are titles from a genre of mid-twentieth century books now known as the Golden Era of Lesbian Publishing. “Pulp” was the nickname for books cheaply printed on low-quality paper and sold at corner stores and newsstands, often for less than a dollar. Their cliches ranged from action-packed Westerns, unintelligible science-fiction, and soapy romances, all wrapped in eye-catching scandalous covers. Pulp publishing houses were the definition of quick turnover: write fast, print fast, sell fast.
However, there were elements to the pulp paperback that worked well for other kinds of stories – the kind you wouldn't want to be seen reading. Pulp was where the stories deemed too dirty or obscene often found a home. The books were small enough to be hidden in a bag or back pocket (and consequently named "pocketbooks") and usually cost less than a dollar. And because these cheap paperbacks weren't seen as anything likely to make a great impression on society, they typically flew under the radar of government censors. And so, they became a place for rare representation of queer life and love, crude as they were.
Because of the lack of literature featuring lesbians available at the time, these books were one of the only sources of information for queer-identified people to look to. They were all that anyone, regardless of orientation, had to understand lesbians and gender-diverse people of the time. And so, their cliches and psychodrama shaped how people understood us for decades.
This painting series was made with support from the Canada Council for the Arts and Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
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