Tee Corinne: NEW WOMAN

Tee A. Corinne – The Basic Lesbian Photograph

“Trying to find ways to do lovemaking pics”[1], Tee A. Corinne has created a large and lasting body of photographs of lesbian eroticism. She was a revolutionary, she did what no one had done before her – she made erotic art for lesbians from a lesbian perspective. “Every new generation of lesbian photographers who follow her look back on her work as some sort of norm – the basic lesbian photograph.[2]

The feminist movement argued that heterosexuality and hence erotic art objectifies women, thus it became increasingly difficult for feminist artists to deal with sexuality in their work. Tee A. Corinne found several ways to deal with the problem of representing lesbian sexuality. To avoid the male gaze, she either used specific techniques to create abstract or metaphoric images, or she insisted that sexually explicit work was only displayed in women-only exhibitions and publications.

In 1982, Tee A. Corinne produced a large series called “Yantras of Womanlove”. While these photographs are explicit, Corinne used the technique of arranging multiple prints into yantras to camouflage their outspokenness. Apart from that, she was also concerned for the models’ privacy. Thus she created abstract images of lesbian sexuality by using several techniques, such as solarisation, flipped negatives, images printed in negative and multiple exposures.

These heavily manipulated images function not only as a protection for the individual model’s identity, but also as a correlative for the status of the public lesbian: present yet invisible, out yet hidden, provocative yet in need of protection.[3]

Many artists, including Tee A. Corinne, used another strategy to avoid explicit depiction of sexuality – female nature-based imagery. Based on notions of biological and social sameness, feminists argued that there is an essential female nature. This female space was depicted through visual symbols such as landscapes, fruit and flowers. Corinne’s photograph Isis in the Sand (1986), 1986 illustrates the equation of nature with femininity.

Within the women’s movement, women began to liberate themselves from standard, stereotypical ideals of beauty, and artist began to depict women as they really are. Along with representing young, white and slim women, Tee A. Corinne has consistently photographed disabled women, women of colour, older women, and fat women: The Three Graces, Yantra#30.

corinne_three_graces corinne_yantra_no30
The Three Graces Yantra#30

[1]  Bright, Susie, Posener, Jill, Nothing but the Girl – The Blatant Lesbian Image, Printed in Hong Kong by Imago Publishing Ltd., 1996. p. 69

[2]  Bright, Susie, Tee A. Corinne, in: Bright, Susie, Posener, Jill, Nothing but the Girl – The Blatant Lesbian Image, Printed in Hong Kong by Imago Publishing Ltd., 1996. p. 102

[3]  Grover, Jan Zita, “Dykes in Context”, in Ten: 8, no. 30, 1988, pp.42-4. Reprinted in: Boffin, Tessa and Jean Fraser, (ed.) Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs,. London: Pandora Press, 1991.