Queer Arts Festival
TRIGGER:Drawing the Line in 2015

Dates and Venue July 23 to August 17, 2015 | 181 Roundhouse Mews

Reviewer Christian Steckler

The Queer Arts Festival kicked off this year with a reception to showcase an art exhibition by several artists who are striving to achieve a name for artistic insight and talent with an obvious political edge.

The occasion was well attended and quite colourful, with a clear nod to trans issues, and a visit by some fun drag personalities. The range of artistic presentations covered cinematic, static, sculptural and wall art, as well as a live canvas inviting passersby to create an evolving communal piece of art throughout the evening. This latter challenged us to question what sexual labels really mean. I found the idea innovative, and provocative, but wished for more talent from those applying paint, who seemed stuck on circles and hearts around parts of the body denoting sexual identity.

Another interactive exhibit featured stitched portraits of controversial kinky, queer and trans personalities including Gian Ghomeshi, Ru Paul and porn star Buck Angel. Viewers were invited to use needle and yarn to express where they thought lines should be drawn in relation to these people.

Two memorable photo presentations, one gay (in colour) and one lesbian (in black and white) showed the beauty and sublime nature of various intimate acts. Both expressed an authentic sincerity in gay and lesbian love that steadfastly contradicts the freakishness that homophobes so frequently attach to gay relationships.

There were some daring exhibits, including a dual video presentation juxtaposing war scenes with atomic mushrooms and hard sex including fisting.

Other notable exhibits included a miniature carousel of wheelchairs, charmingly crafted, and a political series of scenes and snippets featuring meat as a central statement - including a depiction of the Canadian flag with a generally heart-shaped piece of meat in place of the maple leaf.

A beautiful stop-action animation video produced with dandelion seeds and fruits and vegetables was the artistic highlight for me. It was intricate, imaginative, colourful, and truly creative, with no political intentions to speak of. It was just a wonderfully spellbinding exploration of possibilities.

Touring the exhibit was a treat. However, reading the descriptions/interpretations by most of the artists (the dandelion seed animation being a welcome exception) was an exasperating eye-rolling experience. The proliferation of nebulous, abstract, aimless chatter was not even intelligible, never mind intelligent - which I assume was their aim. Why some artists believe that they need to justify their good work with verbal interpretations aimed at being unreachable by the general public is beyond me. I’d just like to tell them this: Trust your talent. Your art is good. Leave the interpretation and appreciation to the viewer.

© 2015 Christian Steckler