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Event Series Explores Greer Lankton’s Gender and Sexuality Questioning Art

Lankton’s artwork and archive eloquently explore and question the norms of gender and sexuality, iconography, popular culture, consumerism, and socially-engaged art. 
Greer Lankton. Photo courtesy of the Mattress Factory

The Mattress Factory has announced a new spring 2022 event series and the launch of an online finding aid to celebrate the work of Greer Lankton, a significant and underrecognized artist in the radical art scene of New York City’s East Village during the 1980s. The online finding aid will give access to the artist’s newly digitized archive, which will soon be available via the Mattress Factory website.  

Greer Lankton. Photo courtesy of the Mattress Factory

The event series, It’s All About Greer Lankton, runs through April in a collaboration between the Mattress Factory and the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. The series culminates in Greer Lankton’s Birthday Bash on April 21, which would have been Greer’s 64th birthday. This special event will serve as both a presentation and the official launch of the Greer Lankton Collection Finding Aid, offering a window to the two-year process of archiving the artist and the development of the CollectiveAccess database and finding aid. 

Over the last two years, Mattress Factory Senior Archivist Sarah Hallett and Project Digitization Archivist Sinéad Bligh have worked to digitize the Lankton archive in a project funded through the Council on Library and Information Resources and in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. The online finding aid is the culmination of this work and will make publicly accessible Lankton’s artistic development, artwork, and exhibitions, along with her relationships to her friends and contemporaries, including Nan Goldin, David Wojnarowicz, and Peter Hujar.  

The archive dates from the artist’s birth in 1958 to her untimely death in 1996, shortly after her installation It’s All About ME, not you opened at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. The Lankton family donated the work to the Mattress Factory in 2009; in 2014, they donated a 15,000-item collection that now constitutes the Lankton archive. The archive offers an unfiltered view into Lankton’s life from childhood, studies at Pratt Institute, gender reassignment surgery, battles with abuse, anorexia, drug addiction, and the AIDS crisis which surrounded her. Lankton’s artwork and archive eloquently explore and question the norms of gender and sexuality, iconography, popular culture, consumerism, and socially-engaged art. 

Core to the events will be the online symposium Queer Afterlives in Artist Archives on April 15, co-organized by Mattress Factory Digitization Archivist Sinéad Bligh and Isaiah Bertagnolli, PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of History of Art and Architecture. This symposium will bring together archivists and scholars with artists whose work engages with archives, the histories of Queer art, and the identities it can reveal. The symposium will inform the final selections for a planned exhibition at the University of Pittsburgh’s University Art Gallery in Fall 2022, curated by Isaiah Bertagnolli, a research fellow on the Greer Lankton Collection Finding Aid.  

More information regarding the It’s All About Greer Lankton event series and registration is available at mattress.org

Photo courtesy of the Mattress Factory
QBurgh staff writer
QBurgh is your source for LGBTQ news and community resources in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. Be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Want to write for us?