Monday, June 11, 2012

Be a guest at our table in "How Queer Everything Is Today!" - an experimental public forum, Tues, June 12

NEW YORK CITY:  It's a party. There is a seat at the table for you. It is a democracy. Talk is the main course. This is a performance of a dinner-party conversation. Anyone seated at the table is a guest performer.

On Tuesday, June 12 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, please join me, Susana Cook, Travis Chamberlain and Neal Medlyn in How Queer Everything Is Today!, an experimental public forum and a featured event of the inaugural Queer New York International Arts Festival, taking place at Abron Arts Center (466 Grand Street in the Lower East Side, at the corner of Pitt Street.

As a festival, Queer New York International Arts Festival states that it seeks to “dispel preconceived and stereotyped notions of ‘queer’ and provide a platform for expanding the discourse about artistic practices.” What is a “queer” art practice? Is it the artist’s intentions or the framework? Are their limits or frameworks that define it? And how do we move from autobiography and narrative toward an understanding of queer aesthetics?

How Queer Everything Is Today! is modeled after performance artist Lois Weaver’s “The Long Table."

Inspired by Marleen Gorris's film Antonia's Line, Weaver conceived and developed "The Long Table" as an experiment with participation and public engagement. The central image of the film is a dinner table that grows longer and longer as Antonia's family welcomes more outsiders and accommodates more eccentricity.

Weaver's "The Long Table" re-appropriates this dinner table atmosphere as a public forum, and encourages informal conversations on serious topics. It is literally a very long table set up with chairs and refreshments where anyone and everyone is welcome to come to the table, ask questions, make statements, leave comments, or simply sit, listen and watch.

For this event, How Queer Everything Is Today!, the New York City-based performance magazine Culturebot has invited a variety of artists, critics, and curators, along with audiences, to take part in a discussion about queerness in performance. The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

French choreographer David Wampach in "Auto + Batterie"
What is Queer New York International Arts Festival?
Queer New York International Arts Festival (QNYI) is a new festival of contemporary performance and visual art that take places for the first time from June 5 – 16, 2012 and will present some of the most exciting artists from all over the world.

The festival explores and broadens the concept of “queer (in) art.” The QNYI festival presents a program that includes artists such as Raimund Hoghe (Germany), Ricci / Forte (Italy), François Chaignaud (France), Tadasu Takamine (Japan), Cecilia Bengolea (Argentina) and many other international artists who will strongly challenge the current reality and normality of queer.

Co-curated by Zvonimir Dobrović, artistic director of Queer Zagreb and the Perforations Festival in Croatia, and art historian and curator André von Ah, the festival aims to dispel preconceived and stereotyped notions of “queer” and provide a platform for expanding the discourse about artistic practices. The goal is to create an artistic context that will respond to a process of systematic narrowing of the very idea of what queer (in) art is. According to curators Dobrović and von Ah:
The QNYI Festival will create a new understanding of queer that will redefine what has become the preconceived, expected and very stereotypic notion of the term as marginalized entertainment and burlesque-type drag aesthetic lacking any artistic relevance. This impoverished reality will be approached by an empowered new concept of queer as a wider platform for excellence in arts, capable of tracking, discovering and interpreting new trends and reinventing queer to be both socially and politically relevant while daring to speak openly about the norms that constitute society and artistic practices. By this redefinition, it will be possible to present artists whose work deals not purely with gender and identities (i.e. expected queer issues), but with different aspects of norms, disabilities, ethnicities and race to name a few. 
This need to constantly widen the meaning of queer comes from a realization that a narrowing process of that term has systematically been taking place in the so called “queer centers” of the world – Berlin, Amsterdam, Sydney, London, San Francisco, New York, and others. Those gravitational centers where it has become seemingly easier to live with others’ (queer) identities are actually the places where the idea of queer art has become as irrelevant as it ever was in most places around the world. Like for example in Eastern Europe where queer art never really existed before an international queer festival (Queer Zagreb) created tools for it to be recognized. The result of all this is that New York, or any other city in the US, does not have an artistically relevant queer festival. The reason is not, as it may often be heard, that there is no need to separate or name or identify art as queer, but because of the process of continuous narrowing of queer results in queer art being  hijacked by the mainstream and its queerness being sublimated and metamorphosed into an abstract artistic level, absorbed and erased, thus made invisible, no doubt on purpose in order to be easier to be consumed. 
The long term effect and vicious circle of this transition and impoverishment of queer and its wider meanings is that even artists often avoid the label since they see it as something that would narrow and define them in a limiting way. It should actually be the contrary – that is, queer should be seen as symbolic capital to be added to their work rather than a handicapping definition that could alienate wider audiences.

Who will be at the long table of in How Queer Everything Is Today!?
I am a guest performer at this table, along with these cool folks:

Susana Cook is a New York-based playwright, performer and director who works in political theater. Born in Buenos Aires, she has been writing and producing original work for over 20 years. She graduated from the National School of Drama in Buenos Aires and also trained in theater in Paris, before moving to the United States in 1991. She is, in my humble opinion, one of the best artists working in the USA.

Travis Chamberlain is a director, producer, and curator based in New York City, originally from North Carolina. As the Artistic Director of The Kindness, a production company formed in 2011 with Chris Keegan, he is commited to a reassessment of the histories of transgressive culture. He most recently directed and produced Green Eyes by Tennessee Williams to great acclaim. He is a performance curator at New Museum.

Neal Medlyn is a performer. He has been hailed as the Paris Hilton of performance art. He has performed at Joe’s Pub, PS122, Fez, Ars Nova, the Knitting Factory, Galapagos Art Space and the Philly Fringe. He starred opposite Karen Finley in George and Martha, and his dance moves have been featured in the work of choreographers Adrienne Truscott and David Neumann. He has performed in a variety of films, bands, dance pieces and plays, been a model and a go-go dancer and continues to do some of these things.

Please join our super-cool gang at the long table!

If you are interested, I have written several essays about the shows being presented at Queer New York International Arts Festival.

Here is a round-up of the entire festival:

Here is a performance review of Macadamia Nut Brittle from Italy:

Here is a performance review of Japanese artist Tadasu Takamine's Kimura-san:

Here is a performance review of Auto + Batterie from France:

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