Guest Post by Autumn Hays
Let us start off by acknowledging that there is a distinct difference between Queer and Transgender subjects. It’s important not to lump these two together. Though related and often overlapping, these are not interchangeable terms. Queer being a reclaimed pejorative for gay, and transgender being a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender. (see more.) With that in mind what I would like to look into a reoccurring concern in the discussions that take place around both queer and transgender performance art.
In the last month I have seen multiple panels touching on the subject of new Queer and or Transgender works. There was a definitive connection between all panels: and attempt to shake up current the definitions, and what some define as new codified zones of safety. When I say zones of safety, I am referring a kind of identity politics that sits safely in a form of expression that is confortable enough for new standards of acceptance. Artworks that sit in this comfort zone fail to realize the full potentiality of the subjects and often begging to forum it’s own predictable cliché. The challenging of the formulation of a tamed queerness or transgender performance is an often-highlighted theme appearing in new works. The formulation of a safely circumscribed zone undermines the attempt to reconsider the subject due to an inadequate scope.
Queer and or transgender arts panels often attempt to define the new wave of artists making work in these areas. Today many artists are attempting to define a new direction that departs from the identity work that came out the 80s and 90s. Often these earlier works are ascribed the quality of crying out for recognition. Much of the work being produced today is looking for finer definitions, as opposed to this preliminary awareness.
We could go on to talk about the subject of the word Queer as discussed during the roundtable “New Queer Aesthetics” in late October. Queer New York International Arts Festival (QNYI) had come to Chicago to exhibit a Queer Fest as an extension of the one in New York at Defibrillator Performance Art Gallery . The Chicago show featured artists Suka Off, Bruno Isakovic, Gabreiela Mureb, and Keijaun Thomas. Queer fest distinctly pulls itself away from other Queer festivals which they feel are accepted ideas of the term Queer. As one of the festivals curators, Zvonimir Dobrović, explained, the festival seeks to redefine and challenge preconceived notions of the term Queer. Not all work is made by the LGBT community and instead is defined loosely by a sort of norm-challenging ascetic. After struggling through various definitions, redefinitions, embracing, rejections, fears of washing out the word of meaning completely, and other post-modern linguistic dilemmas an audience member mentions queerness in regards to race, specifically the colored queer. Why is this important? Because the conversations began to progress from the semanticlogical, what is Queer, to what are current Queer issues are concerned about, who are we dealing with the queer female of color in art today.
This November I attended a panel at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Transgender / Arts : A roundtable on the future of transgender cultural production, which included panelists Trish Salah, Jules Rosskam, Julian Carter, David Getsy, and Micha Cárdenas. During the panel many valid points were made about Transgender art. Micha Cárdenas presented important question to the panel, “Where are the trans women of color in art?” Many of the panelist themselves who specialize in Transgender arts could in fact not think of a single artist. The panel began to discus a kind of film festival, performance and art transgender normative narrative. A washed down version, where you began to see something constrained, not quite all the way there. Sitting in a place somewhere in academia where it is comfortable and safe.
How does performance readjust and challenge Queer and Trans identity without losing site of the community in general? There is something that happens to us when we are about to fully realize the other; we find a way to compromise, to only go so far. Many Queer or Trans artist today are attempting to push at the boundaries of a newly accepted normative narrative and point at the things we are forgetting, those who still don’t have a voice. The Art world, the world, is still white male dominated. In a way the lull of sleep we put ourselves in this supposedly post-feminism, post-racism, post- sexism, post-gender issues world that we keep referring to as better than it was before is more dangerous. Because hiding under that comfort is the fact we haven’t changed all that much, we should be forging new grounds and making sure it doesn’t fall asleep.
If I was asked where the new queer or trans aesthetic is headed today, I would say somewhere within the struggle of continuous disturbance, in the understanding that things aren’t there yet and we have to keep shaking it up, shaking ourselves up, so we don’t become our own worse enemies, the perpetuators of a normative Queer of Trans identity. As performance art specifically keeps pushing on with another panel at the Hemispheric Institute for Performing Arts, this week discussing “Race & the Colonial Impulse: Queer Performance Practices”, I look forward t a continued discussion that bridges gaps in the dialogue between racial queer and transgender issues in the arts.
Autumn Hays is an Artist, Curator, Teacher and Writer. She graduated the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with an MFA in Performance where she received the John Quincy Adams Fellowship. She received her BA in Visual Arts at UCSD. Hays was the recipient of numerous scholarships, grants and awards including two major Jack Kent Cooke association scholarships.Currently she is assistant curator at Defibrillator and Directing Coordinator of the Rapid Pulse International Performance Art Festival. www.autumnhays.com
This week: Part 2 of our residency project at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis! This week we talk to critic, poet, gallerist, the award winning Director of the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts Director and Art in America contributor Jessica Baran. This was one of those interviews that I will look upon as a personal favorite. Besides Bad at Sports declares war on Art News. What could be better.
Jessica Baran is the author of the poetry collections “Remains to be Used” (Apostrophe Books, 2010) and “Equivalents” (winner of the Besmilr Brigham Women Writers Award, forthcoming from Lost Roads Press, 2013), as well as the poetry chapbook, “Late and Soon, Getting and Spending,” produced by All Along Press (2011). She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is a freelance art writer and co-curator of the fort gondo poetry series.
Here are the Chicago-based collectors on the magazine’s 2009 list, in alphabetical order as listed on ARTnews’ website:
Neil G. Bluhm
Collection focuses on Contemporary art
Stefan T. Edlis and H. Gael Neeson
Chicago; Aspen, Colorado
Plastics Manufacturing (Retired)
Collection focuses on Contemporary art
Anne and Kenneth C. Griffin
Collection focuses on Impressionism; Post-Impressionism
Elizabeth and Harvey Plotnick
Publishing and investments
Collection focuses on Old Master prints; Islamic ceramics
Real estate, hotels (Hyatt), and financial information
Collection focuses on Contemporary art
None made the magazine’s Top Ten list. Interestingly, Chicago has just slightly fewer collectors on the list than the 6 boasted by Los Angeles (9 if you count those who have secondary residences in Southern California) as reported by Suzanne Muchnic on the L. A. Times’ Culture Monster blog.
This is the first time in my life I have ever paid any attention to this list or its rankings–so take it for what it’s worth to you.
A week has already gone by and it’s time again for the Art News Roundup, Yeeehaw! This week many great things happened that we would have loved to cover but Duncan died on the Oregon Trail from a snakebite and Richard got dysentery. Christopher and Amanda made it only to open a saloon in a local mining town where Amanda sings twice nightly and Christopher rigs the roulette wheel to never fall red cause you always bet on black.
What can a bankrupt art investor do after he/she looses their home? Sleep in the Guggenheim!
Called “theanyspacewhatever,” the Guggenheim’s latest offering includes a hotel room, created by Carsten Holler — one of 10 artists who make up the exhibition in which artists mix visual arts with other disciplines such as literature, architecture, design and theatre.
The Swedish-based Holler asked if the museum would consider the concept of a sleepover for his Revolving Hotel Room.
“We were very interested in it, because it does in many ways encapsulate the concerns of these artists to really stretch the parameters of what a museum can be,” chief curator Nancy Spector said.
“At night our guests will be able to stay in the museum and enjoy the exhibition by themselves.”
London council votes to paint over Banksy, then installs a camera to watch the camera that didn’t catch him”
Westminster city council in London decided Friday to paint over guerilla-artist Banksy’s largest work in the city.
The council ordered the removal to send a message to graffiti artists.
Robert Davis, deputy leader of the council and chair, told BBC News, “If you condone this then you condone graffiti all over London.” To that I say your right but damn if it isn’t better then any graffiti I have seen in a long while.
Sotheby’s Lost $15 Million Paying Guarantees
Sotherby undersold artworks in auction or failed to sell whatsoever to the tune of $15 million US on guarantees of a minimum price the auction house had with sellers, Sotheby’s said in a filing late yesterday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Good news? with the US dollar at it’s current rate it isn’t that much.
Bilbao’s Guggenheim overpays for art
Director Thomas Krens travels the world living like a playboy and overpaying (for no ulterior motive beyond he’s just a good guy I am sure) with no regard to the bottom line or profitability of the larger company? That is unheard of in the art world! I am [mock] shocked, surprised and amazed that someone can be that irresponsible?
Russians Turning To Art Market As Recession Looms
Russia decides now is the time to get into the Art Market and fair activities. It’s so crazy it brilliant! Now is the time to buy, when no one has the liquid cash. I guess sitting on the worlds diamonds makes that easier to do then most?
Christo and Jeanne-Claude fight to drape a 40 mile stretch of the Arkansas River in Colorado
[artist name] fights [city name] council to enable [cloth type] to be publicly displayed [fill with large dramatic environmental scenario] but some say it’s a stunt that has run it’s course and only props museums needs for tent pole events to get attention. Yet others say it’s an epic event that is shocking and helps elevate the cultural awareness of artistic institutions that glow in the presence of such temporary one of a kind installations over permanent collection additions.
Weekly art news roundup with all the news that we’re too busy to cover, but still talk about around the chuck wagon water cooler. Yeeehaaw lets get started:
Pulitzer widow donates art, $45M to Harvard art museum:
The Harvard Art Museum has received a gift of 31 works of art and $45 million US from Emily Rauh Pulitzer, a former assistant curator, 1963 Harvard graduate, spouse of Joseph Pulitzer Jr., and also was assistant curator of drawings at the museum from 1957 to 1964. This marks the largest gift in the history of the museum.
3 Canadian projects recognized for sustainable design:
The Swiss-based Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has recognized three Canadian projects in its annual awards for the most environmentally responsible construction projects. The winners: The Living With Lakes Centre in Sudbury, Ont. – The Evergreen Brick Works project in Toronto. – The North Vancouver Outdoor School.
National Gallery exhibit designed to interact with viewers:
The National Gallery of Canada opens an exhibition Friday that’s designed to display how much impact a viewer can have on a work of art, rather than the other way around. Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer is made up of 17 large works, many of which interact with the viewer.
Birmingham Named Britain’s Ugliest City:
More than a third of 1,111 people surveyed thought Birmingham had the ugliest buildings in the country. Ugliest building? Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre has “won” that prize.
Roman Sim City Brought To Life:
A team of archaeologists, scientists and software programmers has created a 3D virtual model of the city of Cologne as it was 2,000 years ago. Though not yet online, the software allows visitors to fly through the city in its Roman glory, just in time for Gladiator 2: Chariots of Fire.
Damien Hirst Tops Art Review’s Power 100:
The uber-seller is no. 1 on the British magazine’s list of the art world’s most powerful people for the second time; runners-up include dealer Larry Gagosian and MoMA’s Kathy Halbreich. With the art world conquered he next shoots for Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Award.
Southern Illinois To Get Major Art Gift
New Yorkers Herbert and Dorothy Vogel… working with the National Gallery of Art in Washington and federal arts agencies, chose the University Museum at Southern Illinois University to receive 50 pieces [of the Vogel collection.] The gift is part of a plan announced in April to donate 50 works from the Vogels to one art institution in each state. Ten recipients were named then, and announcements about the remaining 40 are expected this week. Forget Harvard like it needs the money!