Simon Burgess, a lecturer at East Surrey College, has been threatened with serious disciplinary action and redundancy for recommending the work of artist Del LaGrace Volcano to a student who was doing a project on gender and sexuality.
The artist’s work is very clearly relevant to the student’s project, as it focuses on transgender, queer and gender variant identities and sexuality, but management have branded it pornography and of no value to the student. While material which could be defined as pornographic could well be of relevance to the student’s project anyway, it is clear that Del LaGrace Volcano’s work has a purpose and politics behind it; it is not simply designed to titillate, like pornography, and to suggest that the lecturer’s recommendation of it is akin to providing a student with pornography is ridiculous.
Dr Eugenie Shinkle, a senior lecturer in photographic theory and criticism at the University of Westminster’s school of media, arts and design is leading the campaign to save Burgess’ job:
“Apart from being censorious, backward, and homophobic, management’s stance displays a remarkable ignorance of contemporary debates and image-making strategies.This is a serious matter that has implications for all academics, teachers, and students.”
She could stick a transphobic in there too.
Check out The F Word’s review of Del LaGrace Volcano’s book, Femmes of Power, here (by Milly Shaw).