Artists of colour show their smarts
THAT’S SO GAY: SAY IT TO MY FACE at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen West), to July 28, reception/Kiley May performance tonight (Thursday, June 27), 7-10 pm. 416-531-4635. Rating: NNNN
Curator Elisha Lim puts a provocative spin on the annual Pride show at the Gladstone, bypassing the usual art gallery suspects to showcase queer and transgendered artists of colour from Canada, the U.S. and Australia.
Many works in Say It Too My Face portray people who defiantly look out at viewers and subvert our assumptions.
In a doll-sized textile sculpture of a man with three arms, Jérôme Havre uses dyed “skin” and string ties to haunting effect, suggesting a struggle to break free of constricting categories.
Antoinette, in curlers, and Amélie, a child in pink hat, as painted by Syrus Marcus Ware, stare out intensely, perhaps questioning the trappings of gender they are forced to wear.
TextaQueen depicts herself as a South Asian female Jesus in a large drawing (a “texta” is a felt-tipped marker in Australia), while Carla Molina Holmes, a Montreal-based Chilean, paints a Kahlo-esque woman holding her exposed heart in a snowy rural Quebec landscape for Ceci N’est Pas Une Lesbienne.
Michèle Pearson Clarke’s It’s Good To Be Needed series adds a dose of reality to the overly cheerful Rosie O’Donnell-style representation of lesbian relationships by photographing estranged exes awkwardly holding hands.
Some artists take on racism directly: Nadijah Robinson’s Black Infinity series, painted figures collaged with African textiles, includes an indictment of officers acquitted in Junior Manon’s death in Toronto. Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Mitchell, who collaborate as Bambitchell, send a wicked video Love Letter In Three Parts to Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney on the subject of taking the citizenship oath in a veil, his honorary degree from Israel and his other “achievements.”
The energetic young artists of Say It Too My Face reflect an exciting period of change when restrictive, inflexible definitions of queerness and gender are giving way and members of previously ignored communities are making their voices heard.