Is Queer Art an “Impoverished Reality”? Yes, Says New York Art Fest
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Queer New York International (QNYI) art festival, the first of its kind to take place in New York, will showcase a bevy of queer-identified performing and visual artists from June 5 – 16 at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side. As such, QNYI hopes redefine “what has become the preconceived, expected and very stereotypic notion of (queer) as marginalized entertainment and burlesque-type drag aesthetic lacking any artistic relevance,” said QNYI in a press release.
Is burlesque-type drag lacking artistic relevance? Not to us. But still, co-curator Zvonimir Dobrovi, a native of Croatia, argues that the current “queer” framework for artisans is an “impoverished reality.”
As such, the festival is aimed towards “reinventing queer to be both socially and politically relevant while daring to speak openly about the norms that constitute society and artistic practices,” the release states. “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.”
Works will be presented by artists such as Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, the Pussy Faggot! crew, East Village boys, Ricci/Forte of Italy, Cecilia Bengolea of Argentina, Japanese artist Tadasu Takamine, and French performance artist David Wampach, among many others whose intention is to challenge preconceived notions of “queer.”
Dobrovi is the artistic director of Queer Zagreb and the Perforations Festival in Croatia, alongside art historian André von Ah, have identified an international narrowing of “queer” 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,” argues QNYI. “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 art.. 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, says Drobrovi.
“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.”
Get the full schedule of QNYI performances, discussions, associated nightlife, and visual art displays here.
Queer New York International (QNYI) is founded by:
Zvonimir Dobrović artistic director
André von Ah artistic co-director
Adriana Dobrović Executive Producer
Ana Mari de Quesada Production Manager
Jay Wegman abrons arts center