Virginia Woolf’s prescient 1928 novel Orlando tells the story of a young nobleman who, during the era of Queen Elizabeth I, lives for three centuries without aging and mysteriously shifts gender along the way. In 1992, filmmaker Sally Potter released a now-classic adaptation of the book with Tilda Swinton in the starring role as Orlando. Since then, Woolf ’s tale has continued to hold sway over Swinton, who describes the book’s ability “to change like a magic mirror. Where I once assumed it was a book about eternal youth, I now see it as a book about growing up, about learning to live.”
For the summer 2019 issue of Aperture and a coinciding exhibition, Swinton, as guest editor and curator, draws upon the central themes of the novel—gender fluidity, consciousness without limits, and the deep perspective of a long life—to offer a collection of images and writings that celebrate openness, curiosity, and human possibility. “Woolf wrote Orlando,” Swinton notes, “in an attitude of celebration of the oscillating nature of existence. She believed the creative mind to be androgynous. I have come to see Orlando far less as being about gender than about the flexibility of the fully awake and sensate spirit. This issue of Aperture will be a salute to indetermination and limitlessness, and a heartfelt celebration of the fully inclusive and expansive vision of life exemplified by the extraordinary artists collected here.”
Photographs by Zackary Drucker, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Jamal Nxedlana, Elle Pérez, Walter Pfeiffer, Sally Potter, Viviane Sassen, Collier Schorr, Mickalene Thomas, and Carmen Winant
Artist commissions for the “Orlando” issue of Aperture magazine and the related exhibition at Aperture Gallery are made possible with the support of Slobodan Randjelović and Jon Stryker. Aperture also thanks ROOT STUDIOS for supporting the production of Mickalene Thomas’s work in this issue.
Significant support for Aperture magazine is provided by The Kanakia Foundation. Further generous support is provided in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.