queering the crip cripping the queer art exhibition berlin schwules museum disability queerness
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May 4, 2023
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A Captivating Exhibition at the Intersection of Queerness and Disability

Have you heard about “Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer”, the first international exhibit exploring the multiple historical, cultural, and political intersections of queerness and disability? 

Taking place in Berlin, at the famous Schwules Museum, we went to discover this unique exhibition. Through diverse artwork, performances, and multimedia, it celebrates the resilience and creativity of queer individuals with disabilities.

The exhibition includes 8 steps. Step one, “The Ideal Body” explores the damaging effects of society’s obsession with the symmetrical “ideal” body and its stigmatization of those who don’t conform. Through the examination of Greek statues, it questions beauty standards and highlights the historical marginalization of diverse bodies.

Then, through Claire Cunningham’s art, we dive into the historical marginalization of disabled individuals and the stigmatization of same-sex desire in the Middle Ages, revealing the institutionalization of disability and the social exclusion faced by disabled people, as well as the condemnation and limited documentation of same-sex desire as a sinful act.

Step three is about Renaissance art, when disability was often associated with evil or portrayed as objects of fascination, but a growing counter-narrative emerges as queer/disabled artists celebrate their bodies. Riva Lehrer’s artwork challenges stigmas and presents disability as a natural and unhidden aspect of life.

The Enlightenment introduced the contradictory ideas of freedom and reason as means to perfect society while excluding marginalized groups. Pelenakeke Brown’s art explores the personal excavation and reclamation of her body and medical records, challenging the interventions and narratives surrounding disabilities.

In the 19th century, medical science defined “norms” and identities for marginalized groups, leading to both community building and stigmatization. Laws and beliefs enforced control over disabilities and same-sex desire, but resistance movements emerged, advocating for equal rights and self-determination. Steven Solbrig’s photography celebrates the resistance of queer and disabled bodies.

During the Nazi era, queer and disabled individuals were persecuted, subjected to forced sterilizations, experiments, and mass murders. Letters by Hans Heinrich Festersen reveal their suffering and resilience.

The disability rights movement, inspired by civil rights movements, challenges barriers faced by disabled individuals, reshaping perceptions of disability as a social issue. Gunter Trube and Barbara Stauss collaborated to advocate for deaf and queer individuals, while Syrus Marcus Ware’s art explores social justice and Black activism, empowering queer/disabled individuals.

This exhibition sparks dialogue, reflection, and empathy, inviting viewers to question preconceived notions about queerness and disability.“Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer” is a powerful testament to the transformative power of art, opening up new avenues for solidarity and breaking down barriers. Don’t miss the chance to step into this exhibition which takes place at Schwules Museum until May 29th 2023!

“Self Portrait with Robert Andy Coombs in My Dorm Room”, 2019 © Joey Solomon, Manhattan, New York
Courtesy the artist and the Schwules Museum


Anajara Amarante
Mel Baggs
Pelenakeke Brown
Claire Cunningham
TJ Cuthand
Justin LeBlanc
Riva Lehrer
Charles Ryan Long
Ono Ludwig
Rita Mazza
Brontez Purnell
Sindri Runudde
Steven Solbrig
Joey Solomon
Dirk Sorge
Elizabeth Sweeney
RA Walden
Syrus Marcus Ware
Kah Mendoza Weethee
Quintan Ana Wikswo

Lorenza Böttner
Raimund Hoghe
Audre Lorde
und aus der Sammlung Prinzhorn:
Alois Dallmayr
Karl Genzel
Carl Günther
Helen Prager
“Cora Spassvogel”
Wilhelm Werner

Ines De Nil
Krista Beinstein
Wolfram Deutschmann
Rosa Frank
Hauke Heumann
Rinaldo Hopf
Sophia Neises
Tom Olin
Barbara Stauss
Elija Sydney Tourkazi
Stefan Weise

Exhibition curated by Kenny Fries and Birgit Bosold


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