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Exhibition: Strange Bedfellows2014-04-24T13:55:10+00:00
Curatorial Statement from Amy Cancelmo (source exhibition catalog):

“My interest in the subject of queer collaboration began in a series of questions: Why are there so many collaborative artworks in contemporary queer art practice? Is queerness inherently collaborative, or is collaborative practice inherently queer? What is to be learned about both practices by considering them together? Definitions are sometimes helpful when beginning this kind of inquiry, but the interesting thing about queerness, and about collaboration, is that both of these concepts share the trait of being in a constant state of negotiation and evolution. Queerness and collaboration also share the grey area of being a matter of identification. Postmodern and Post-structuralist theory have provided a framework to understand that nothing exists in a vacuum, and that every action is a collaboration, yet not all artists define as collaborators, or acknowledge multiple authorship.”

Queer is often used as a blanket term to attempt to encompass the range of diversity within the GLBTQQI population, but not all homosexuals define themselves as queer, and not all those who define as queer are homosexual. Queerness can be defined as both an expression of non-heteronormative sexuality or gender expression, or as a social and political stance. Queer is a noun, but it is also a verb. To queer something is to make it strange, to present an alternative, provide a point of rupture in what we think we know. You don’t have to identify as queer to actively engage in the queering of something.”

The concept of “making strange,” has long been a goal of artists, perhaps best articulated by the Russian Formalists, who referred to the practice as ostranenie, or estrangement. The concept estrangement is based on the principle of repositioning language and symbol in order to create alternative perceptions, possibilities and interpretations for the viewer. By this definition, ostranenie, could also be understood as queering. Fluxus, one of the late 1960’s most international and gender inclusive Avant Garde movements, also explored the notion of estrangement through breaking down distinctions of life and art. For Fluxus artists, this idea of making strange could be applied not only to language and symbol but also to everyday occurrence. These artists attempted to break down distinctions between art and life as static and separate categories through inventive publications and email art, performances, musical concerts, and many other hybrid actions. Their interventions destabilized conventional definitions of art in much the same way that many of the artists participating in Strange Bedfellows use their own lives, relationships, and bodies as sites for a artistic and political intervention.”

 

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