Normal Work

Long before Cindy Sherman, that gender-bending, class-blurring, social-hierarchy smashing doyenne of dress-up photography, there was Hannah Cullwick. Cullwick was a maid in Victorian England who, along with her employer/boyfriend/dominant Arthur Munby, produced a series of photographs that totally out-Sherman good ol’ Cindy. Cullwick is photographed as a chimney sweep, a naughty housekeeper, a man, a slave and an aristocratic lady. It seems that much of this was part of an elaborate and kinktastic role-playing scheme she and Munby had going on, but her diaries reveal that Cullwick was also exceedingly proud not only of her femininity, but her extreme work ethic as well. In Normal Work, by German artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, photographs of Cullwick are exhibited alongside a film produced by the pair that re-imagines her famous poses in the vein of contemporary drag performances — a genre of entertainment that Cullwick herself would have been right at home with. The exhibition is open through October 18 at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, 2900 West Berry St. Gallery hours are noon until 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Visit for more information.
Wednesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Sept. 11. Continues through Oct. 16, 2013
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Jennifer Davis-Lamm