|curator's statement||june 2007 selection|
q u e e r n e w w o r l d
c u r a t o r :  h e c t o r c a n o n g e
Parades, festivals, rallies, dances, and marches taking place in New York City and around the world mark June as "Pride Month" for the LGBT community. Though the events that transpired since the 1969 Stonewall riots are widely known, the gender struggle for tolerance, acceptance and inclusion continues to shift and grow. Looking back, we have come a long way in defining gender and sexuality, from just Gay as in the "gay movement," to the inclusion of Lesbian and -- though not without opposition -- Bisexual, Transgender, and even "Q" for those questioning their sexual orientation.
Labels aside, the need to identify ourselves in a more inclusive, but still unique way, has been an important development in our writings and self-definitions. More and more, the word Queer as in gayness has been in use. Though still controversial in its semantics and historical references, Queer is no longer a derogatory word, but instead it has become the one label that best attempts to make the assertion of being "different" in whatever form the relation of gender and sexuality might be.
Queer New World postulates and reinforces a new treatment for this very (re)definition. Through the works of 20 artists from the archives of Visual AIDS, this online exhibition presents a Post Queer vision. A world where not everything is so black or white, right or left, female or male, gay or straight, transvestite or transgender, but where variations and complex constructions of Being, Self, and Identity are evident. The selected works speak a language that bends past gender constructions and definitions. The photographs, paintings, sculptures, and mixed media works reflect a Post Queer artistic and cultural movement where people, and in this case artists, are unapologetic, blunt and fearless of demolishing existing binary gender/sexual discourses.
In this Queer New World it is not so easy to speak about homosexual male and/or female characterizations. We confront a new breed of men and women (and I use the biological definition, even if by doing so I am limited by language itself) who not only transgress their sexuality, but their identity. Therefore, Post Queerness is also a question, and perhaps a refusal to accept even the limitations of what "Queer" now represents. Is "queer" a young man who does not want to be identified only as "gay" because he appears gender-neutral? Or is "queer" a lesbian who looks like a male body builder from the waist up, but who still has a vagina? Or is "queer" a trans M to F who is romantically involved with a F to M person? Or is "queer" a young boy who can safely attend school in skirts and Timberland boots?
Artistically, as the works included demonstrate, the tendencies of breaking the gender constraints have been present for quite some time now. Some of the art works date to the early 90s, but most were realized in the later years of that convoluted decade. The early years of this new millennium have been a turning point for many artists whose work can now be more contextualized in a new and Post Queer frame of reference where a gay man doesn't necessarily have to be muscled to appear more masculine, or a young lesbian need not be butch to conform, or a transgender person doesn't necessarily have to be in drag to be understood. In celebration and commemoration of a history that is still in the making, and not exclusively during the month of June, it's time to consider the (re)negotiations that we must face and act upon when dealing with gender, sexuality, and our own identities.
b i o g r a p h y
Hector Canonge is a new media artist who lives in New York City where he studied literature, film and interactive media arts and technologies. He is the recipient of the 2007 AIM Residency Program at the Bronx Museum of Art where he is presenting IDOLatries (on view until August 19), and he is currently working on MUTANATURe, a series of locative ecological interventions. His new site-specific installation Muros Distópicos/Dystopic Walls has been commissioned by the Queens Museum of Art for the project "Corona Plaza: Center of Everywhere," which will be on view starting in July. For World AIDS Day in 2006 he presented 200mm3, a new media installation that incorporates video, laboratory equipment and commercial scanners to present stories about people with HIV/AIDS (now on view June 7 through July 25 at the Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers University, Newark, N.J.). Canonge is the founder and director of CINEMAROSA, Queens' only queer film series. He is an adjunct instructor at The New School, where he teaches filmmaking and new media technologies, and at CUNY where he has taught web development and multimedia courses. For more information visit: www.hectorcanonge.net.