Leather and Latex: Materials, Morals and Subcultural Style

11 April 2018, 10.30am
Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow

‘Leather and Latex: Materials, Morals and Subcultural Style’ is a one-day workshop focused on the subject of material as a means to approach histories of subcultural style. Involving archivists, conservators, theorists and practitioners the day expands upon the social meanings and political potentialities surrounding these two materials and how they might be historicised and preserved.

Leather and latex are associated with various subcultural codes, styles and tastes. A kind of “second skin” leather has been synonymous with outlaw communities and dissident sexualities, from post-war bike clubs to ‘80s leatherdyke bars. If leather is authentically like a skin, latex substitutes. Worn as clothing, latex exaggerates and distorts, is eroticised and wipe-clean. Expanding on the cultural codes that shape tastes and create styles, ‘Leather and Latex: Materials, Morals and Subcultural Style’ turns to the properties of material in order to seek new approaches to historiographies of subcultural style.

The day will include contributions from Grace Biggins, an archivist working with the Leather Archives UK held at Bishopsgate Institute; fashion designer Theresa Coburn; Dr Anita Quye who has published widely on the preservation of synthetics; artist Craig Mulholland and a keynote from fashion anthropologist Ted Polhemus, whose seminal work has celebrated the ways that subcultures have shaped fashion and style has transformed culture over the past four decades.

‘Leather and Latex: Materials, Morals and Subcultural Style’ is organised by Dr Laura Guy and Dr Fiona Jardine with support from Glasgow School of Art, the University of Edinburgh, Cruising the Seventies: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures and the Humanities in the European Research Area.

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