Jill Johnston Sitting on a Roof, Cape Cod, MA (2021)
C-print and neon on dibond, wood frame
60h x 48 x 2.25 in.
Burning Butch combines a material study with a technological study to explore the robust Lesbian Herstory Archives.
Combing through images in the Lesbian Herstory Archives, LaFleur searches for photographic and ephemeral documentation of queer ancestry between the years of 1950-1970. Using a flatbed scanner she aggressively crops and disassembles the sourced images, layering atop with colored neon glass that playfully references the phrases, symbols, and designs pulled from the archive’s extensive collection.
In the source material for "Jill Johnston Sitting on a Roof, Cape Cod, MA (2021)," the author and critic known for her separatists views is pictured with a relaxed self-assuredness, reclining with opened legs. LaFleur enlarges and crops the image to highlight her soft butch features, utilizing purple neon to focus on her popped denim collar and the lock of hair resting on it.
In this work and the series as a whole, LaFleur provides context for the faux personas developed in the Sapphic Serenades: the drag king, the baby butch, the femme. Utilizing technology, LaFleur creates a space where the lived experiences of queer predecessors and the fabricated stories of imagined folk exist in tandem. It also allows LaFleur to talk back and even be critical of an archive and figures like Jill Johnston, whose non-intersectional views clash with contemporary feminism. This radical re-envisioning aims attention to the overlooked perspectives of these figures, ensuring their love, endurance and survival.