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Monday, September 04, 2006

Tee Corinne, Superstar of Lesbian Erotica

by Ctein

Tee Corinne, Self-Portrait at 46

I lost my dear friend and "fellow" photographer, Tee, last Sunday. She ended her life on August 27, after half a year of putting her life and work in order upon discovering she had inoperable and terminal cancer.

Tee was a pioneering lesbian-feminist photographer, the "shy superstar of lesbian erotica" as one website put it. Another described her as "famously obscure." I seriously question the shy part—I think the author confused Southern-raised gentility with bashfulness, a serious misjudgment. Tee knew how to put herself out there. And only a fool confuses the manners of a "Southern gal" with weakness.

But the latter has a certain truth and lesson for all of us artists. Tee was the fairy godmother to a generation of young women photographers and then fell into the artistic pantheon of the semi-forgotten for some time. Through the efforts of her putting her affairs in order and insuring that her body of work will be well-handled, she's not likely to fall into total obscurity.

But few of us have her support network, nor foreshadowing of and control over one's own demise. Many now-renowned photographers were lost for decades and then accidentally rediscovered. Many more greats never will be. We like to think our work, if it is meritorious, will outlive us. Don't count on it. Edward Weston quoted Edna St. Vincent Milay—"There will pass, with your great passing, little of beauty not your own." A somewhat peculiar sentiment given Weston's personal foibles; he was not the loveliest of men. But never mind; it's still a charming artistic ideal. For too many worthy artists, even our constructed beauty will pass with us, for all practical purposes. Archival prints with a 200 year life that sit in someone's basement for a few decades until the house is razed for a strip mall will not enrich future cultures.

Back to the personal, though.

Tee, the woman, meant much to me. I feel the loss of a close friend, someone I dearly loved. Why is this notable? Because I only met Tee about four and a half years ago, we spent all of three hours in each others' company at that time, and after that my total contact with her consisted of fewer than 20 short emails and a scant handful of phone calls.

Some people just have that effect on those around them.

Think on that, Ozymandius, wherever you are.

Posted by CTEIN

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm greatly sorry for your loss. It sounds like she was a great person.

4:14 AM  
Blogger Don said...

When someone so young passes, even if we've had only a minimal contact, it forces us to consider our own mortality. And that sometimes is frightening.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous sevres-babylone said...

My sympathy.
Some of her work has been anthologized in "nothing but the girl", which I picked up at the AGO a few years ago.

9:45 PM  

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