Sep 23, 2011

Review| Queer State(s), University of Texas Visual Arts Center, Austin




K8 Hardy, Position Series, Form # 19, 2010
Queer State(s), an exhibition curated by Noah Simblist and David Willburn, is presented by the University of Texas Visual Arts Center, in the Mezzanine and East galleries, from September 9th-November 5th.


Queer State(s) "explores the ways in which Texas artists queer gender identity and the performance of sexuality through visual representation." Texas artists, gay and straight, are exploring "queer" sexuality in thier work, with queer meaning "a kind of sexuality or gender identity that resists easy classification and exists in a more ambiguous way."




Although Queer State(s) show cases a number of different media, such as painting and photography, the stand out works were the video installations, due to the enormous number of them. It seems as if every other work was a video installation. The smaller videos consisted of a tiny flat screen tv and 2 pairs of headphones to listen with. These were not very successful as most of the audience simply walked past them, didn't notice them, or were too nervous to try on the headphones. The most popular works were the large scale video installations. These were either video projected on to an entire wall or small huts the viewers walked into to see the film.


Wura-Natasha Ogunji's video performance is of a woman pulling herself along a populated dirt road while dragging water jugs with her ankles. The woman in the video appears to be in great pain and she struggles down the street. The overall feeling of the film is that the woman was being punished for some offense, as the bystanders on the road are simply standing there gawking at her struggles and not offering to help her.The film was made in Nigeria, whose women don't have the same rights that American girls do. Its very easy to imagine that the woman in the film was caught doing something and this is her penance.


Christeene was an artist who stood out the most. Christeene did a video installation that consisted of a crude lean-to which you walk inside and see the video. The exterior of the lean-to is covered in get well soon cards written by children to Christeene. The gives off the inital impression of being at a memorial. Once inside, the space is very cramped so only two people can watch the movie at a time.The video is a song called "Fix My Dick" and is sung by Christeene, accompanied by her back up dancers T-Gravel and C-Baby. The video is so horrifying and outrageously campy that I couldn't stop watching. Its like a drag queen's version of "Baby Got Back" but with much more kitschy silliness. The extreme lack of space forces the viewer's face into the tv screen so that the viewer is bombarded by the song, which was infectious so that i found myself singing it a few days later. I highly recomend this show and this artist in particular, for not being afraid to be completely silly and random. It was refreshing to see this amongst all the other more somber videos.


Overall, the layout of the show was not as well thought out as it could have been. Most of the huge paintings were placed together in one section, the large video projections placed too close together in the main area, and the smaller paintings placed next to installations, which over shadowed the tiny pictures. If the Curators had switched the positions of a larger painting and several of the smaller paintings, the show wouldn't have such a overcrowded feel to it. There's so much to look at that the whole exhibition becomes a sensory overload, meaning the only artists who get noticed are the ones with the biggest, most outrageous pieces.


-Serena Rangel






Queer State(s). 2011. Visual Arts Center. 9 Sept 2011 <http://utvac.org/>.

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