Del has produced four monographs from 1991's Love Bites to Sex Works in 2005. Select a publication from the menu on the left for more information.
Del LaGrace Volcano 1978-2005
(essay by Beatriz Preciado)
Sex Works shows the history of sex in the queer scene in thrilling pictures.
Del LaGrace Volcano &
Judith "Jack" Halberstam
Serpent's Tail, 1999
The Drag King Book explores the lives, communities and performances of many of the leading Drag Kings in mid-late 90's New York, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Milan and Paris through photographs, text and interviews. In it's second printing and still going strong it remains the first and unfortunately only visual monograph of a drag king scene that has expanded exponentially throughout the world in the six years since publication.
Del LaGrace Volcano
Review by Allegra McLeod:
Sublime Mutations, a photographic retrospective of Del LaGrace Volcano's work produced over the course of the last ten years, visually remaps the political and theoretical cutting edge of the queer avantgarde. Throughout this beautiful and moving collection, LaGrace Volcano returns to the materiality of the body in order to trouble the conventional in a forceful challenge to both biological essentialism and theories of transgression.
LaGrace Volcano's work represents a timely and much needed intervention in a number of ongoing debates within queer academic, artistic, and activist communities. Answering the call not only to examine various manifestations of lesbian masculinity but also to complicate readings of femininity, in "The Feminine Principle" LaGrace Volcano exposes the contours of queer femininities. His photographic mediation on the feminine documents a history of queer femininity through portraits of Susie Bright and Kate Bornstein, as well as the "Femme Next Door." In "Lesbian Boyz and Other Inverts," LaGrace Volcano subsequently turns to demonstrate the myriad ways in which masculinity can in fact be subversive, as he celebrates the bodies of butch dykes, transsexual boys and other gender queers. Then, in a series of images and interviews LaGrace Volcano titles "Ars Poetica," he returns to the feminist pornography debates and to unanswered questions raised by the lesbian sex wars of the 1980's in order to complicate feminist concerns with erotica, obscenity, and perhaps most importantly with the transgressive pleasures of pornography itself. Finally, LaGrace Volcano focuses on the transmogrified body as he explodes heteronormative and essentialist interpretations of the physical self with images of hermaphrodykes, trans men and what he calls "transgenital landscapes." These photographs of gender variant bodies simultaneously underscore both the social construction and lived embodiment of trans masculinity.
In his introduction to Sublime Mutations, transgender theorist Jay Prosser remarks that through LaGrace Volcano's work "we see the changing shape of our bodies and our communities reflected". Importantly however, we also glimpse the changes promised by our was of seeing, the mutations we read as well as those that are visited upon our bodies. LaGrace Volcano skillfully demonstrates that sublime mutations are always already the transformations that viewers project on the physical world, and especially on the body.
LaGrace Volcano's most recent photographs examine the ways in which inter-gendered and intersexed subjectivity allow us to envisage the body anew. Yet his work implodes binary imaginings not only by emphasizing the differences of transgendered or intersexed bodies, but by queering the 'normal' body as well. Crucially though, the bodies he photographs are not objects held at a distance but rather are celebrated, as LaGrace Volcano aptly puts, as "sites of mutation, loss, and longing." Documentation of the loss of his friend, writer Kathy Acker to cancer, and the transformation of his lover Simo Maronati's abled body into a disabled one, expands the category of queerness to include bodies that are not necessarily homosexually marked but are nevertheless queerly positioned in relation to the normative. In the end, he always innovatively complicates the relationship between subject and object as LaGrace Volcano makes visible the ways in which he himself is deeply implicated in the project of chronicling the meanings of queer bodies and communities, both as a transgendered intersexed person and as an artist and activist.
Gay Men's Press, London 1991
Perhaps the first published photographic monograph of lesbian sexuality in the world made from an insider's perspective. In the early 90's LOVE BITES generated a great deal of controversy and censorship in both the mainstream and lesbian/gay media. In the USA it was banned by Customs & Excise for two weeks. In Canada they cut the most "offensive" photographs out of the book before selling it. In England it was sold by mainstream booksellers but not in lesbian or gay bookshops who protested they couldn't take the risk or disagreed with the SM content. Although it has been out of print for over 10 years it is still considered a queer classic.