TORONTO, November 8, 2016 — The critically acclaimed A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Prints closes at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) on Sunday, November 27, 2016. Exploring issues of gender and sexuality in Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868), the exhibition has been enjoyed by more than 150,000 visitors since its opening. A Third Gender is on display in the ROM’s Third Floor Centre Block and is included with General Admission.
Four hundred years ago in Japan, a complex social structure existed in which gender involved more than a person’s biological sex. Age, position in the sexual hierarchy, and appearance were also considered. Fundamental to this structure were male youths termed wakashu. Neither “adult man” nor “woman”—each a separate gender—they were objects of desire for both, playing distinct social and sexual roles. They constituted a third gender and are visually represented in approximately 60 beautiful Edo period woodblock prints (ukiyo-e) in the exhibition. A Third Gender is the first North American display on wakashu.
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Asato Ikeda, formerly the ROM’s 2014-2016 Bishop White Postdoctoral Fellow of Japanese Art and Culture and now Assistant Professor of Art History at New York’s Fordham University. A ROM publication, co-authored by Dr. Ikeda and Joshua Mostow (University of British Columbia), accompanies the exhibition and is available in the ROM Boutique and online at shop.rom.on.ca.
Programming reflecting the exhibition’s content was developed in partnership with the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto. The ROM gratefully acknowledges the guidance received from members of the LGBTTIQQ2S community while developing the exhibition.
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