The Queer Arts Festival 2016
Drama Queer

Dates and Venue June 21 – 30, 2016 | The Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews

President (Pride in Art Society) Jeffery Austin Gibson Artistic Director (Queer Arts Festival) SD (Shaira) Holman Visual Art Exhibition Curator Jonathan D. Katz

Reviewer Darren Cordeiro

Named one of the top 5 festivals of its kind worldwide (Melbourne Sun Herald), the Queer Arts Festival (QAF) is an annual artist-run multidisciplinary festival held in Vancouver. With exciting events ranging from theatre, musicals, poetry readings, symphony and more, this festival has something unique to offer everyone.

Drama Queer: Seducing Social Change is this year’s gallery exhibition, curated by Jonathan D. Katz, a well established U.S. art historian and curator that has a special interest in art and queer history. This exhibition featured curated artists such as 2Fik, Carl Pope, Attila Richard Lukacs, Joey Terrill, Angela Grossmann and many more.

Drama Queer focuses on queer politics using visual representations but not in the traditional sense. It questions your beliefs in what the definition is for gender role by using contradictions to challenge the notion of what truly defines us with respect to our sexuality. The wide array of expression, whether through contemporary murals or black and white photography, paints a picture to “shift the ground questions we didn’t think to ask, taking us out of our comfortable acknowledged limits towards new social possibilities and combinations”, as quoted by curator Katz.

After attending numerous queer art openings, I found the wide array of messages depicted through the art to be captivating. Some focused on the effects pop culture has played within the queer community while others highlighted the transformation that transgendered women face during their transition. Other plaques and posters simply had witty one-liners that made you question your own sexuality and beliefs, as well as lightening the mood by having a good hearty laugh.

As an example of the diversity of the pieces, 2Fik had photography where he played different characters within the same photo, showing the contradictions and social clashes facing a large majority of us in some shape or form. One photo had him being represented by the traditional Arab vs. the liberal man on two sides, with him sitting in the middle with a sign reading ‘help’ in multiple languages, showing how many of us are torn between different parts of our identity.

Attending on opening night, I witnessed a wide array of guests, whether they were part of the LGBT community or simply art lovers who wanted to see what the festival has to offer. They all stopped and were mesmerized by the pieces, sparking discussions amongst themselves. I would recommend anyone who wants to see a wide array of queer art within one open space to check out Drama Queer.

© 2016 Darren Cordeiro