Queering the International

Dates and Venue 23 July – 9 August 2014 | Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews

Curator Laiwan Assistant Curator Anne Riley

Reviewer Christian Steckler

Peering into the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall for the Queering the International and Pride in Art Community Visual Art exhibit featured by the Queer Arts Festival gives a sense that the pickings seem a bit slim. Walking into it changes all that. There is plenty to see, hear and appreciate, from simple photograph collections, contemplative structures and wall-mounted gilded impressions to intriguing audiovisual presentations.

Surely, different exhibits leave deep impressions on some viewers, while others leave them wondering what the artists had in mind while creating their works. Such was the case for me. I was enthralled by the wall hanging produced by refugees of sexual persecution that certainly catches the eye and invites one closer to contemplate the images and written messages presented on it.

I was fascinated by the video presentation of South African artist Zanele Muholi, in her illustration of conditions facing GLBTQ people in her country, and Africa in general, in the face of the establishment’s racist attitude that these lifestyles are not African, but rather imports of the whites.

I was entertained and, I must say, a bit turned on by Kent Monkman’s video featuring athletic dancers, dressed down to only the essentials of First Nations regalia, performing to music that is decidedly not traditional. His “silent movie” video, also featuring a couple of handsome, finely-built guys, was well-crafted, ironic, and very amusing.

A simple, open structure, constructed of posts and leaves, mystified me until I read the artist’s notes inviting viewers to find refuge through contemplation in its shelter.

What I thought would be a quick hour-long tour of the Festival’s art exhibit turned into a relaxed appreciation of general-audience art that presents itself from GLBTQ perspectives without flaunting sex or sexuality. It addresses, often silently, the human rights struggle that so many in the world still endure. It introduces us to the faces of some who continue to bear the weight of discrimination against their essential being. Patient faces…with eyes reflecting pain, confusion, or defiance…understanding themselves…waiting for others to understand.

© 2014 Christian Steckler