Monday, 21 July 2014

THESIS REFLECTION: 'QUEER' EXHIBITIONS?

BY: NICOLE RITCHIE

As many of you may know, WorldPride 2014 happened in Toronto this past June. This encouraged a wide variety of WorldPride funded, supported, and affiliated events, and, in particular, I was excited about the mass quantity of queer related arts and cultural events.

There were several events and exhibits that began before the WorldPride week in late June, while others are still continuing throughout the summer, including exhibits directly affiliated with WorldPride and ones that are just hopping on the queer summer bandwagon here in Toronto.

These events included a queered version of AGO’s First Thursdays entitled Fan the Flames: Queers on Fire, a queered version of Nuit Blanche entitled Nuit Rose, and even an exhibit co-curated by two of our very own Master of Museum Studies students entitled Archiving Public Sex.

Did anyone get a chance to check out any of the exhibits? I’d love to hear your thoughts! If not, don’t fret – there are several ‘queer’ exhibitions continuing this July and August. With my thesis, I may not be engaging directly with these exhibits or with a specific ‘queer’ exhibit, but I am constantly analyzing what ‘queer’ means for arts and cultural space. I would like to encourage you to attend one (or all!) of these exhibitions listed below, or any seemingly or self-proclaimed ‘queer’ exhibit in your vicinity and share with me your thoughts, criticisms, and opinions. In particular, I would like to engage in a dialogue in light of my previous posts on queer theory and my proposal to ‘queer’ museums, and how these existent and experiential spaces work within (or not) that frame of interrogation.

Wynne Neilly: Female to “Male”
July 23rd - August 24th
Student Gallery, Ryerson Image Centre
(article of note)


Wynne Neilly, January 24th 2014 – 24th Shot, 2014, Fuji Instax film

Just Me and Allah: Photographs of Queer Muslims
By Samra Habib
June 24th - October 5th
Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives


Excerpt from an interview with Samira Mohyeddin for the Queer Muslim Project

Camp Fires: The Queer Baroque of LĂ©opold L. Foulem, Paul Mathieu, and Richard Milette
May 29th - September 1st
Gardiner Museum
Tours Everyday at 2pm - FREE for students on Tuesdays

 Robin Metcalfe, Curator, discusses “What is Camp Fires?”

Side note: I particularly like this quote from The Varsity that is demonstrative of ‘camp’s potentialities to work in dialogue with the concept of ‘queer’ as identified in my queer theory 101 post:

“Apart from its affinity for the frivolous, camp can be summarized as a form of resistance against dominant order, concerned with challenging the social conventions that marginalize queer individuals and oppress queer cultures.”


To conclude, here are some questions that I have and continue to interrogate. They are just a sliver of my own queries in order to provoke your thoughts and criticisms.

Are exhibitions ‘queer’ simply because they (which, who even is ‘they’?) self-identify as ‘queer’? Are the exhibits ‘queer’ because they contain content that is affiliated with the LGBT movement? Is ‘queering’ fulfilled by filling a normative arts and cultural space with such ‘queer’ content’? To what extent does being financially supported by WorldPride, a corporate sponsored non-for-profit organization, affect said ‘queerness’? Does the space and experience of the exhibitions differ at all from normative exhibitions? What affective experiences are being promoted? What are the overarching messages or narratives of the exhibits for the LGBTQ community?

For my thesis, I pursue a broader understanding of the que(e)rying of arts and cultural space that is more in dialogue with the non-normative, albeit ideologically and discursively. I would, therefore, also encourage you to share, in dialogue with this post, your experiences of what you felt was a non-normative arts and cultural space or exhibit.

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