2-QTPOC: new acronym, new artists for queer art show this summer
Curator Elisha Lim, most recently known for their “Sissy” calendar and animation for AGIR’s video against Bill C-31, sits pensively at Café 1000g, vibrating with enthusiasm (and chocolate cake) for the chance to bring their two-spirited, queer and trans people of colour (2-QTPOC) heroes to Montréal for an exhibit and event series at artist-run centre articule August 10-19.
The mainstream world, says Elisha Lim, raises us to fear and hate each other, and especially the more marginalized members of our community. “This show is about healing our queer family, and bringing us closer together,” the artist (who uses the pronoun “they”) says.
In order to find ways to remunerate artists (and pay travel expenses), Lim has started an indiegogo to crowd-source for the 2-QTPOC (i.e. two-spirited, queer and trans people of colour) show at articule artist run centre in Mile End. We sat down with the animator, artist, and curator to ask them what the 2-QTPOC Montréal show is all about, and why it matters.
2B: I recall writer Silas Howard once told me that his advice to queer and trans people was to always fight to take up more cultural space. How has this struggle manifested itself for people of colour in recent years?
EL: I feel like the new generation of artists are really entitled to take up space in art institutions. Adee Roberson uses neon bright colours that come from underground Afro-punk culture. All of these artsts are influenced by their ancestors and their queer family: their work is entitled, new, fearless. Out of the ashes, these folks have refound their traditions. (We don’t know our queer dads or grandads.)
All of their work is so bold. The title of Ange Loft’s piece is a perfect example: “Armour and Accessories” which she might have a live model to show off at the gallery.
2B: Can you tell us a bit about what unites and distinguishes the chosen artists’ respective oeuvres?
EL: I think what they all have in common is power. Many of them have actually inspired my art practice for years, which is how I chose them. And their work really shows me how to bring power through beauty and dignity in the face of hate.
Ange Loft, an artist from Kahnawake, is doing a line of Aboriginal armour and accessories called “the Cult of Kateri” and Walter Scott, who is a rising Canadian art star with shows in New Mexico and Toronto, will be showing some new work. Kesso Saulnier is a Guinean Québecker, who does comic strips in the form of stitched material up to 9m long depicting everything from the erotic to ancestral history. Her piece for the articule show is an homage to blues legend Big Mama Thornton. An anonymous artist will also be showing intricate, haunting drawings of the inside of Québec prisons where refugees, such as himself, are detained.
2B: Are there other shared themes in their works?
EL: I think these artists celebrate newness. They make work that is about their families and their ancestors. Saulnier’s work, for example, is embroidered onto fabric that her mother makes in Guinea and mails to her.
2B: What kind of workshops and events are you planning?
EL: More than workshops, there will artist talks. On Aug 16, Saulnier will give a talk about her embroidery work and her mixed identity, which will be followed by a presentation by Arc-en-ciel d’Afrique (Massimadi Festival). On Aug 17 Leroi Newbold will tell the true story of how he co-founded the Ste-Émilie Skillshare, a queer collectively run art space in St-Henri. Diane Labelle, a Mohawk researcher, will give a presentation on two-spirited people and decolonization. On Aug 18, Textaqueen will give a spectacular multimedia artist talk about her latest work, an example of which is the event poster [a mash-up of Manet’s Olympia with Josephine Baker, and banner photo, above].
Ryan Thom is doing a staged reading of a play at Cagibi, Diggy Smalls is planning a black-focused dance party, and La Mackerel will host a 2-QTPOC burlesque night. Many of the events will also be part of Pervers/cité. (Event details TBC)
2B: Your passion for this community really comes out in the Campaign video! Can you recap the donor rewards?
Oh my god! They are very sexy. The unbelievable Wai-Yant has donated her own sweat and labour masterpieces – original one-of-a-kind ceramic cups with tiny winter owls and the insignia “2-QTPOC MONTREAL”. They come with a $35 donation. Donations between $15 – $40 earn hot, limited-run screen-printed commemorative t-shirts and posters. $60 – $150 donations are for real legends. Those donors will have their names featured on the wall of the gallery for the duration of the show, as well as handsome queer-made personal thank-you videos during the event.
Banner photo by Textaqueen “Arlene/ ‘You didn’t love me when I lived here” (detail). To donate or find out more about the 2-QTPOC project and show, check out:
2-QTPOC Montréal (August 10-19, 2012)
@ articule (262 Fairmount Ouest) + various locations