In the book’s foreword, she explains the meaning of ‘yantras’ as ‘diagrammatic representations of fields of energy’ and that the book itself is about ‘the spirituality of sexuality, the transcendence that can take place when making love to ourselves and others’. Rooted in joy, tenderness and love, Corinne’s work delights in the intimacy felt between women. While it celebrates pleasure, her work is also political, and she worked tirelessly to promote sex positivity and increase lesbian visibility, stating that, ‘the lack of a publicly accessible history is a devastating form of oppression’ which queer people face constantly. In a society that has – and continues to – force queer people to the margins due to their sexuality, her revelatory work is a beacon of optimism and hope. In the introduction to Yantras, the civil rights activist and writer Margaret Sloan-Hunter shares a poignant reflection: ‘the frustrating thing for many lesbians is that most of these erotic images have been of the young, white, able-bodied and thin. While we continue to expand our sexual consciousness, it is important that our images reflect who we really are… I speak for the fat, black lesbian who at thirty-two was ashamed of her body, but who reluctantly agreed to be photographed for this book. She saw her image and smiled as she looked at the proofs’.
Corinne continued to blaze a trail as a photographer, touring a slideshow of images of famous lesbians across the USA to ensure gay women across the country saw their lives reflected throughout history. She also co-established the Feminist Photography Ovulars in 1979-1982: low-tech photography workshops in the Oregon woodland where women were encouraged to explore their creativity and experiment with image making in a women-centred environment. Her practice encouraged viewers to reflect and take joy in their existence—at once referencing a rich queer history of photography, but also training the photographers of tomorrow to document moments of radical joy and eroticism.
In the introduction to Yantras, Corinne describes the kaleidoscopic images as, ‘patterns that grew like snowflakes, like the sound of rain, [which] still surprise me… full of details, running on and on, overflowing’. These surging sequences of passionate bodies continue to transform, tessellating and respooling through an endless spectrum. In a moment where community, hope, and solidarity feel distant, Corinne’s photographs glow with a different intensity. Beautiful, tender, and celebratory, they are a testament to the enduring power of love and intimacy.
Our thanks to Photoworks for their collaboration on this presentation. It is also available to view on their website here.