Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Desire is WAR

A few photos from my "Transilvania" series are featured in the "Desire is WAR" exhibition at The Contemporary Art Gallery of The National Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu, Romania.

"Desire is WAR"

July 7 – 31, 2011
The Contemporary Art Gallery of The National Brukenthal Museum
6 Tribunei Str, Sibiu, Romania

Artists:  Apparatus 22 (RO), Muhammad Ali (PK), Stefan Botez (RO/CH), Katja Eliad (RO/IL), Farid Fairuz (LB/RO), Mikhail Karikis (GR/UK), Matts Leiderstram (SE), Matmos (US), MEN (US), Ioana Nemes (RO), Gyarfas Olah (RO), Karol Radziszewski (PL), Emily Roydson (SE/US), Ryan Trecartin (US)

Curators: Anca Mihulet and Dragos Olea

Despite the obvious advancements in the process of secularization and negotiation of identity in the Romanian society, sexual morality remains under the heavy domination of religion, of exaggerated discourse, and of facile mythologies. Even though the degree of tolerance towards sexual minorities has increased recently, understanding, respect, and real political acceptance of such minorities are far from being widespread.

In a rather hostile context, Desire is WAR is a statement-exhibition and form of cultural activism that aims to provoke a debate around a certain kind of desire that quite often ignites intense bitter conflicts, even “wars” within families, groups of friends, neighbors, at school, at work or at home: the yearning for same sex persons.

By presenting a selection of recent works completed in various media - video, drawing, text, sound - from Apparatus 22, Muhammad Ali, Stefan Botez, Katja-Lee Eliad, Farid Fairuz, Mikhail Karikis, Matts Leiderstram, Matmos, MEN, Ioana Nemes, Gyarfas Olah, Karol Radziszewski, Emily Roydson, Ryan Trecartin, artists and musicians that consistently approached and examined queer topics, among others, Desire is WAR is opening up a space for discovery and dialogue that is much needed in Romania and not only. The exhibition attempts to go beyond the perception of queer culture as mere liberalization of emotions or threat to the social and political establishment.

The works in the exhibition discourse on a wide array of issues related to desire for same-sex persons: desire as source of inspiration, the struggle for rights to public representation and expression for the LGBT community and analysis of public rhetoric around civil rights, re-contextualisation of heterosexual icons in queer perspective, "spectacular" aura of queerness and associated  mythologies, dilemmas and confusion caused by the self-acceptance of asexual orientations that are so often socially blamed, nostalgia, the narrative possibilities presented by juxtaposition of „normal” life with the „other”, virtue and sin, compromise and guilt, the power of seduction, queerness as means of aesthetic expression etc.
Music will be particularly emphasized within the show as we are interested in its potential to act as a tool of mass communication of both radical ideas and genuine emotions on queer desire.

This approach stemmed from the historical connection between queer community, visual arts, and music. Numerous musicians have been using pop, dance or rock music together with cultural and historical references in order to wave political critique; in a different spectrum, real personal stories inspired by the desire for same sex individuals have been inserted into a milieu that was resistant to it, thus succeeding to get across a message that otherwise would have had less impact.

The exhibition display, made in collaboration with architect Laura Paraschiv, is deconstructing a widespread cliché according to which urban queer culture is all about parties, promiscuity and glamorous lifestyle. The works will feature in a chaotic post-party set that decomposes the shiny surface and makes room for the real problems of queer community, for its dilemmas and possible solutions of transforming gaps between heterosexual and queer norms into forms of expressions and ways of understanding cultural and sexual difference. Throughout the exhibition room there will be various materials on queer topics: magazines, publication, music mix tapes etc.

Karol Radziszewski, Transilvania, 2007

"Transilvania" is a series of images that were created in the summer of 2007 in the town of Ocna Sibiului, whose main attraction are salt lakes and mud treatments. The photographs were taken secretly. They do not make a narrative – they make a cycle, although in truth every one is a separate "image". Their composition, despite a fairly random photographing process, often looks prepared. Young boys, mature men, and sometimes old men, almost naked, unaware of the “voyeur”, naturally “pose” in front of the lens. Although they are captured in motion, their poses seem very theatrical, sometimes almost pathetic. The seemingly holiday climate, however, has a somewhat nostalgic character and a slightly palpable tension. One can easily imagine that this is a strange record of a performance in an unconventional setting, and only the “actors” are not aware that they are “performing”. Neither do they know the director.

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