Queer Pop Exhibition
A versatile artist who produces prints, paintings and drawings, Shelagh Atkinson has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Her use of vibrant colour reflects the abundance of the seeing, the experience, and the felt force of her constructed environments. Her work has been collected by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of Scotland. These prints were created in response to the concept of gender fluidity or a person whose gender is unfixed. Atkinson perfectly expresses the dislocation and isolation that many LGBT+ people can feel when their identity is viewed by others as ‘not fitting’ into conventional notions of society.
German-Swiss artist Garda Alexander was born in Germany and has lived in Zurich, Switzerland since 1990. A versatile artist, Alexander’s sculpture, paintings, and prints are collected throughout Europe and are housed in major institutions in Germany and Switzerland. Trained in anatomical illustration, her work has a lyrical and uniquely organic nature that reflects her study of human medicine. Colour, form and light are the creative components of her art that often entail philosophical theory and new vocabularies of form. The delicate works presented here are from a new series Alexander has just begun that explores various permutations and nuances of human sexuality. Presented in loving, sensual embraces, Alexander’s portraits of lovers are proud and free.
Adam Castle is a cultural events producer, artist-filmmaker, performer and arts educator.
As director, event coordinator and head curator of the Edinburgh Artists’ Moving Image Festival, Castle has spearheaded an annual event celebrating video art and experimental film and films. An avid performer, Castle is also the director for Pollyanna, a local late-night cabaret held at Paradise Palms. Hosted by feral queer creature Pollyfilla, the night is a celebration of performance art, drag, cabaret, and queer and alternative performance. Adam’s films often feature characters giving orders and instructions, playing out repetitive romances, and using music and movement to engage with one another. Examining the line between cliché and truth, they explore the manner in which media and popular culture is absorbed and re-performed. Entertainment (2017) is a new work.
In addition to being an art collector and artist, Duncan became a first time candidate for the Conservatives at the 2014 European elections, campaigning on a platform of delivering reform in the European Union as well as an in-out referendum within three years. Before becoming an MEP, Duncan worked as Head of the EU Office for the Scottish Parliament between 2005 and 2011. Outside politics Duncan maintains a keen interest in public speaking and has served as the Chairman of English Speaking Union Scotland since 2014, previously acting as its Speech & Debates Officer. He is a patron of LGBTory and a supporter of LGBT+ causes. The informal portrait series presented here sheds light on the complex emotional issues surrounding LGBT+ youth, who are more likely to suffer depression, bullying, isolation and violence than their peers.
Gilliver specialises in long-exposure photography, or as he terms it: ‘Light Painting’ as well as macro photography (his ‘Little People’ series). Created using very long exposure times at night, Gilliver enters the shot, continually manipulating elements and portable light devices to create the resulting ‘frozen’ colours and shape. A self-avowed Star Wars fan, Gilliver spent hours scouring EBay for the figurines displayed in his ‘A long time ago in a toy box far, far away….’ series before setting up the surreal scenarios and capturing the images on camera. Shooting the figurines in recognisable tableaus, the humour and wit in Gilliver’s photographs nevertheless does not detract from their serious message. As the artist’s tribe of lively storm troopers engage in falling in love or milling about street corners, they similarly impart meaningful ideas about conformity, identity, and consumption in our modern day existence. Can toys teach? This artist proves they can.
Working within various media, particularly performance, video and installation, Kennedy draws on the traditional processes of abstraction and surrealism in order to create his own quirky vision. As the artist explains: “I try to put the audience/viewer into a new or imagined reality/situation. The work has a DIY feel and a strong nerd-punk aesthetic”. Often relating to notions of historical pop culture and contemporary art history, much of his work originates from theories of anthropology. Kennedy deliberately aims for a ‘lowbrow’ style and employs ordinary textile objects such as sheets and towels for canvases, believing that this choice makes the work more accessible to a general public. His style has been described as existing somewhere between “the Institution, the Domestic and the Discotheque.”
Linda Rosalia Kosciewicz
Kosciewicz’ historic photographic techniques are selected for their ability to emphasise the emotional sensitivities of her subjects. Since the late 1990s, Kosciewicz has explored themes of transience, life, death, rebirth, and sexuality through depictions of her own body. Her new ‘Love Letters’ series creates mysterious narratives that explore the intimate experience of sexual love. Employing tropes and symbols normally associated with love and sexual passion (i.e. a passive, recumbent nude or a bouquet of roses), these motifs echo the sensuality and physical experience of sex. Kosciewicz explains that the series was deliberately photographed with a mirror for several reasons: “First, to degrade the quality of the image, thus making it appear less “real”. Secondly, to suggest a quality of otherworldliness that emphasises the boundary between the private subject’s world and that of the viewer’s public one…LGBT+ individuals have to negotiate social politics surrounding their sexuality on a daily basis. The mirror image is a reflected image that does not actually exist, but is key to perceiving our identity. It is either as imposed by cultural norms or who we really are at heart.”
Peter’s agenda is fuelled by human interactions and informed by creepy cultural boutiques and blinking pinball lights. Working primarily in an experimental method with collage, painting, and sound and light technology, Peter’s unique approach is defined and embellished by pseudo political critique and contrary salutary celebration. Deeply influenced by the mesmerizing world and thematic content of Ridley Scott’s iconic 1982 film Blade Runner, Peter’s Lightbox series are collage composites printed on back lit film with sound to light sensitive frames. Equality and Diversity in the Wild West is a critique of queerness as a marketable signifier. The Wild West in this collage composite represents neoliberalism: in the words of Gérard Duménil that ‘predatory system’ that positions the market as the answer to everything. The paradox at the heart of this vibrant work is that whilst neoliberalism promises unparalleled freedom, it exacerbates all kinds of inequalities. Neoliberal forms commercialise and commodify difference, eroding sexual and gender politics and integrating them into the societal mainstream of neoliberal market logics.
According to gender theorist Judith Butler, we are not born specifically to perform as men or women. These performances and counter performances are socially constructed ideals passed on from generation to generation and promoted via the mass media. Butler’s theories were referenced in Sally Potter’s 1992 film, Orlando, making actress Tilda Swinton an international star as the lead character who changes gender over a period of a century. Offering us a riveting portrait that toys with androgynity in the striking visage of the actress and long time LGBT+ supporter. Swinton made headlines last year when she was photographed defending Russia’s beleaguered LGBT community by holding a rainbow flag in front of Moscow’s Kremlin. The photo immediately went viral in the blogosphere. Power’s recent portraits of celebrities have engaged notions of blurred gender and identity. Emphasing Swinton’s tall, slender frame and masculine features, Power turns the screen goddess into otherworldly twin of her late close friend, David Bowie.
A visual artist who uses text in her artworks, Sargent finds that words have an inherent beauty all their own. Fascinated by the way our environment is saturated with text in every aspect of our lives, she draws upon this communicative element to create works that simultaneously calm and pose questions to the viewer. Combining both traditional and modern techniques, Sargent’s works and installations often contain references to typewriters, letterpress, and screenprinting. Her unique response to the Pride rainbow flag is a joyous expression of identity, celebrating the LGBT+ community in a thoughtful and beautiful way. Her quote in Spectrum Lilac is from the ‘godfather’ of Queer Cinema, Derek Jarman, who said: “Roses are red, violets are blue. Poor violet violated for a rhyme…” As the artist states: “I use text in my art, not as a writer or poet, but as a collaborator….collating and then creating work of from the myriad of words and quotes collected from many sources.
The desert images exhibited here are drawn from Strzelecki’s recent photographic project that includes a performative element. Strzelecki visited Morocco for the first time in 2015 and returned to the same desert two years later in order to shoot the photographs. The artist (who is likewise both photographer and model) used the experience to investigate issues of identity and belonging. Here Strzelecki’s nude body serves as a trigger point for suggestive contrasts. The images have something counterintuitive to them: natural, they nevertheless suggest the artist’s own experience of viewing homoeroticism as a taboo in an Islam country (93% of Morocco’s population is Islamic and Islam is the constitutionally established state religion). Coexisting with the vulnerability of the living body portrayed in the vastness of sand, Krzysztof plays with the veiled and the unveiled as a comment on complexities of the identity construction. The photographs are an acknowledgement of the presence of this body in the dessert but at the same time an expression of desire and fantasy.
Ed Twaddle works across sculpture, drawing, performance, film and sound to examine socially constructed boundaries and categories and how they relate to the expression of sexuality and identity. Recently, Ed has been working with reappropriated images and videos of desire, which he finds online to explore the eroticisation of heterosexual masculinity in gay male pornography. Ed’s recent work attempts to “muddle up” dichotomous sexual categories—for example: what does it mean to be “gay” or “straight?” Employing an energised, minimal style, Twaddle engages ethical issues inherent in pornographic material that simultaneously reveres and violates the social construct of the “white straight man.”
Exploring his love affair with pop culture, Vice creates paintings that speak to those with a penchant for beauty, style and excitement. In the artist’s own cheeky voice: “There is absolutely no beige allowed at this party!” Vice’s vibrant and energetic paintings of international celebrities have been purchased by collectors worldwide and the artist is rapidly making a name for himself on the contemporary British art scene. “Full throttle” might be an apt way to describe the driven and passionate approach Vice employs when creating his vibrant works. The artist can often be found with a glass of red wine hanging out with his favourite Edinburgh drag queens. In his work, the artist presents a fantastic world of lights and glitter—a party everyone wants to attend. He also extends an invitation for the viewer to join him in grabbing life by the horns and living each and every day to the absolute fullest. His motto: “Carpe Diem bitches!”
Believing that the conventional concept of masculinity is dead, photographer Waddell seeks to explore contemporary queer masculinity and the various ways society manifests this ideal in the individual.
Shot directly in the sitter’s homes, Waddell attempts to “queer the formal portrait”, thus reclaiming it from outdated associations of social power and gender stereotyping. As the artist explains: ”I hope to celebrate the inspiring individuals who not only exist, but thrive outside the norm.” He is currently at work on an Edinburgh series that draws upon Waddell’s own experiences as a drag performer and posits a challenge to hegemonic stereotypes. Inspired by classical painting, Waddell imbues his subjects with the gravitas and sensitivity of a Velazquez or Ingres, imbuing each sitter with the grandeur of a palatial portrait whilst still respecting their own individuality. In the current state of LGBT+ rights throughout the world, this artist should be applauded for work that affirms: “We’re queer, we’re here to stay, and we’re proud of it.”
Alice Rabbit & The Rabbit Hole
Host of 2017 Pride, Alice Rabbit hosts the widely popular drag show, The Rabbit Hole, at CC Blooms every Tuesday night at 9PM. On becoming a drag queen, Alice says: “I didn’t really think I was better at anything else, so I thought cross-dressing was my way forward. I’ve been doing it since I was 15, plus I thought Edinburgh didn’t have much of a scene, and I feel like I am one of the people that helped get it in there…I don’t go out much as a boy as my personal life is very important to me, so drag lets me go out and not get too personal with people, and just enjoy myself.”
Coke Flores Real
Jorge Manuel Eduardo Flores Real enjoys adopting a number of different guises: “Jorge” is a young Chilean teacher and a resilient family member. “Coke” is an oblivious art aficionado, an amateur dancer, a passionate traveller and best friend to some like-minded accomplices. “Flores” is a lover to his husband, a student of English Literature focused on homoerotism, a wannabe hair icon, a zealous controversialist for diversity and inclusion, and an ambitious emerging writer.
Mad Nad Bo
Nad is a singer, writer, reader and performer. Collaborating with writer Coke Flores Real, she will perform a series of vignettes in the guise of various characters. Them represents the physical changes and psychological contradictions of a lesbian character while ‘Max’ is another character struggling with a past of feeling imprisoned in a male body. She has been singing ever since she was aged 7. Nad has been in bands since the age of 15, when she discovered her deep passion for the blues. She is currently at work on her first EP to be released soon. Her songs are a hybrid of blues, jazz and soul; the genres she loves most – and the genres with most feeling. She will be performing her songs in the city centre during the Fringe as a busker.