‘2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Pride Parade. It is a great pity that the parade cannot take place exactly this year, ‘says the curator, artist Philip Huyghe, for whom the queer aspect is a constant in his oeuvre. ‘I don’t consider myself an activist, but my art is certainly engaged and driven by being queer. I have been working for such an expo in M HKA for several years. Now she’s finally here. ”
The acceptance of homosexuality and gender diversity are major social and cultural shifts. It is logical that these are also reflected in art.
In one roundabout, works by 19 contemporary artists have been collected, which are usually directly related to the theme. Two black and white photos at the entrance offer a small historical interpretation: a staged image as a poster for the first Pride and a photo by Marsha P. Johnson, who played an important role in the creation of the entire movement.
The expo mainly wants to demonstrate that the LGBTQ movement is still present and necessary. Artist Tom Sanders, who designed the campaign image, a fist with raised rainbow pinkie: ‘Art history is permeated by queer artists. It’s time to make that visible too. The acceptance of homosexuality and gender diversity are major social and cultural shifts. It is logical that these are also reflected in art and that art contributes to that shift. ‘
Lgbtqia + stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and more. It is an umbrella term for people whose gender, sexual attraction or romantic experience do not conform to heteronormative standards. Artist Stef Van Looveren: ‘An exhibition like this one is important because it shows different perspectives of what is often seen as a single community. Queer art often remains a bit on the surface, we can go into this in more detail. ‘
A triptych by Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen, monochrome rectangular prints with a modest circle as a peephole, are divided over three points in space. In this way the three communicate with each other, but they also reflect all other works in the monochrome surface.
Huyghe invited Arocha and Schraenen, Stef Van Looveren and Marijke De Roover to in turn attract other artists. In this way a group of people of different generations and backgrounds was created. ‘Marijke De Roover is a former student of mine,’ says Huyghe. “Her work is permeated with pop culture, self-perspective and humor.” The video shows her in which she combines fragments from popular Hollywood films with her own material.
Van Looveren chose, among others, Victoria Sin, who is active as a drag queen and artist. On cleaning cloths, Sin presents an imprint of make-up, like a mask that can be put off. “Sin questions binarity by increasing the femininity and make-up associated with the feminine.”
The sculptures can also really be worn as handbags, and thus go beyond the art world.
Van Looveren himself researches the friction between biological sex and gender identity. Silicone handbags show genitals across the spectrum, from a penis to a vagina, as well as intersex. ‘We often immediately put a gender on a face as an identification. Only sometimes that doesn’t correspond to how someone identifies himself. This has far-reaching consequences. ” The handbag is associated with the feminine, but is also a way of expressing yourself. That is separate from an organic gender. The sculptures can really be worn as handbags, and thus step outside the art world.
Sanders and Huyghe explain the experimental video of underground cinema pioneer Jack Smith: ‘It deserves a better place in art history. He had a big influence on Andy Warhol, but always remained under the radar. ” Establishments such as Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin, who were among the first to record the queer culture in her environment, are also represented.
Central to the space is a small dance platform by Félix González-Torres, just big enough for one person. “That work shows a great deal of isolation and loneliness,” says Huyghe. “It was made in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis, but it’s just as relevant today.”
Throughout the city, another organization, Antwerp Queer Arts Festival, placed some works of art in a ‘Queer arts city walk’ until 9 August. ‘Although there is no direct collaboration with the festival, it is important that the queer community is visible in several places in the city, especially now that the corona crisis means that no parade can take place,’ says Van Looveren.
Until September 6 at the M HKA in Antwerp.