Works for the Now, by Queer Artists of Color

As the country wraps up Pride Month and continues to contend with ongoing violence against queer and BIPOC communities, it’s paramount that voices from those communities are heard. Not all artists are activists, of course, but they are all keen observers, ones who invite the viewer to consider their way of seeing things, whether their chosen subject is as expansive as prison reform or as singular as their own sense of self. Each work tells a story, and here, we’ve asked 15 queer artists of color to elaborate on theirs. (Look for a coming compilation of works by queer Indigenous artists in the weeks ahead.)

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

“bust: indestructible columns” drew on an earlier performance I did in 2015, for which I ensconced myself in a concrete pillar outside of the Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles and, once the concrete had dried, freed myself using a hand-chisel and a hammer. The work was a comment on police violence and the sort of surveillance endured by black and brown bodies. I intentionally did it in a public place, where I might have an encounter with the police and where people could bear witness and be more than a passive audience. Last year, I, along with Performance Space and Ballroom Marfa and a number of individual collaborators, brought a version of the piece to the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. In this case, I was thinking about the racist rhetoric of this administration, and the column was a replica of one of those lining the porticoes at the White House. Afterward, there was a dinner with a feast prepared by Gerardo Gonzalez and readings of writers’ reflections on the day. The evening evolved into a dance party and was a reminder of, given the risks and laboriousness of creating culture and speaking truth to power as queer folks, how important it is for us to have spaces dedicated to care and joy. Later this week, a new project that I organized with the artist Cassils will launch — I can’t say too much, but it involves 80 different artists from all walks of life coming together to appeal for the abolishment of immigrant detention.

Growing up in Detroit, I never felt I could perform any gender other than male. But around 2015, during my first year of grad school, I started experimenting with gender performance and expression with my alter-ego, Dion, as a way of exploring fat, femme, queer, black bodies. “I Look Like My Momma (Self-portrait 1980),” is referencing two images — Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Self Portrait, 1980” and James Van Der Zee’s “Couple in Raccoon Coats, 1932.” I borrowed my mom’s raccoon-and-fox fur coat and gold necklace for it and took the photo in a peacock wicker chair reminiscent of those I used to see in our family photos. I sent the image to my mom and she said, “Damn, boy, you look good. You look like me.”

“#Project20s” started in 2017, when I was doing an independent study at Ox-bow and around a lot of white people listening to Taylor Swift, which was irritating. I, meanwhile, became fixated by the fact that both Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West have songs about the likelihood of black kids not making it to a certain age in their 20s, while also thinking about how heavily gentrification was hitting both Chicago and Detroit. My aim is to photograph upward of 200 black or brown people in their 20s by the time I turn 30 — Don, the young person pictured in the second image, was an art student who died in an ambulance after the EMTs took an unhurried approach to his asthma attack. I want for this series to live in museums or gallery spaces where it will confront the people privileged with leisure time. Gentrification is a form of racial violence, and my thinking is, “If you kick us out of our hood, I put us on your white walls.”

Sahred From Source link Arts

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