Exhibition Preview

December 17th Exhibition
Future Queer Perfect
Opening December 17th, Opening Reception 6-9pm, On View through January 3rd, 2016

Drawing on José Esteban Muñoz’s assertion that “queerness’s form is utopian,” exhibition “Future Queer Perfect” explores utopian dimension of queer imagination and memory. The artists in the show share a “queer gaze” on the past, reanimating the gestures, events, and cultural products in order to revisit the legacies of utopianism, political Left, and Soviet Union’s socialism, with a hope for a new inclusive sociality. Embodying, inserting itself into, or appropriating the moments or artifacts from the past, the artists retroactively extend and broaden the utopian not only to accommodate the queerness of the present, but also to posit it as an integral part of a possible futurity.

In Cary Cronenwett’s Maggots and Men, the viewer sees a reenactment of the Kronstadt sailors' rebellion in the post-revolutionary Russia in 1921, “with a twist of gender anarchy,” effectively queering the early avant-garde Soviet cinema and suggesting a gender revolution that remained unfulfilled by the October.

Yevgeniy Fiks’ Toward a Portfolio of Woodcuts (Harry Hay) narrates about contradictions of being communist and gay in the 1930s-1940s America and the beginning of the gay rights activism in the 1950s, via quotes from the communist and founder of the modern gay rights movement in the United States, Harry Hay, revealing the early political split within the gay rights movement in the United States between radicalism and assimilation.

Queer in Space: “Kollontai Commune” in Frunze of the 1970s by School of Theory and Activism, Bishkek (STAB) makes a historical intervention with the archive of the Kollontai commune, a queer communist collective associated with the architecture school in Frunze (now Bishkek) in the 1970s, radically revising our conception of the political and gender dissident in the late Soviet Union.

Artist's and Curator's Bios:

Ilona Berger was DP and co-writer of Cary Cronenwett’s feature Maggots and Men and did camera work on Cronenwett's follow up feature, Peace of Mind. Ilona's experimental shorts, have been seen at Documenta, in art gallery settings, and in film festivals worldwide. She born and raised in Los Angeles by a Soviet emigrè grandmother who loved Christmas at the mall because it reminded her of Stalinist era mass spectacles in the Red Square. Currently, Ilona runs a gallery and microcinema on Hollywood Blvd called LAST Projects and is collaborating with director Jamson Silgnena on Kingdom of Rhythms, a dialectical zombie musical, set in Haiti.

Cary Cronenwett – Director of Maggots and Men. Originally from Oklahoma, Cary Cronenwett spent most of his adult life in San Francisco, California where he was awarded the 2009 Bay Area Guardian Goldie for Local Discovery after the release of his film, Maggots and Men. His work has screened at numerous festivals including Miami International, Outfest Los Angeles, Frameline, Queer Lisboa/ Lisbon, Identities Vienna, and Toronto Inside Out. He holds an MFA from CalArts Program for Film and Video and a BA from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. He’s currently based in Berlin.

Yevgeniy Fiks was born in Moscow in 1972 and has been living and working in New York since 1994. Fiks has produced many projects on the subject of the Post-Soviet dialog in the West, among them: “Lenin for Your Library?” in which he mailed V.I. Lenin’s text "Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” to one hundred global corporations as a donation for their corporate libraries.

Olga Kopenkina is a Belarus-born, New York-based curator and art critic. Among the exhibitions she curated are Lenin: Icebreaker Revisited, Austrian Cultural Forum New York (2014-2015); Sound of Silence: Art during Dictatorship, EFA Project Space (2012); Russia: Significant Other, Anna Akhmatova Museum (2006). Her writings have been published in art publications such as Art Journal, Manifesta Journal, and Modern Painters, ArtMargins, Moscow Art Journal.

Flo (Flores) McGarrell - Art Director of Maggots and Men, was an American artist and gender activist, was born in Rome, Italy on August 31, 1974. He died in Jacmel, Haiti in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. With a background in inflatable sculptures McGarrell spent the last three years of his life making "Agrisculpture," working with discarded plastics and live plants. McGarrell held a BA and an MFA in Digital Arts from Maryland Institute College of Art and an MFA in Art and Technologies from School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

STAB (School of Theory and Activism – Bishkek) is the Central Asian artistic and research initiative which considers art as a means of social critique, territory of solidarity and practice of radical imagination. STAB was established in 2012 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan by a group of long term friends and collaborators – Asel Akmatova, Georgy Mamedov and Oksana Shatalova as a hub for artistic expression, critical research, innovative education and political activism in Central Asia. LGBTI and queer (self)advocacy and critical reconsideration of the Soviet history in Central Asia have been in the focus of a number of the recent artistic and research projects of STAB.