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Expanded forms of Reenactment in Queer Performance: Holly Hughes and Cynthia Carr in Conversation

Cover Image:

Emily Roysdon, Untitled, “David Wojnarowicz project,” 2001–07. Twelve black-and-white photographs, two embroidered, 11 × 14 in (27.9 × 35.5 cm). Courtesy the artist

Presented as part of NEA 4 in Residence.

Contemporary artists like Pauline Boudry, Trajal Harrell, Sharon Hayes, Renate Lorenz, Allison Smith, and Wu Tsang engage expanded forms of re-enactment to destabilize the ways in which narratives of the past are narrowly constructed to privilege specific aspects of the present. Within the spectrum of queer performance, re-enactment has often been employed as a strategy for deconstructing histories of heteronormative oppression but it is also becoming a means for queer artists to critically engage with their own cultural mythologies and origin stories. Holly Hughes is joined by Cynthia Carr, Malik Gaines, Emily Roysdon, and Alexandro Segade as they take a closer look at this phenomenon to consider the past, present, and possible future of re-enactment in queer performance.

Holly Hughes is an internationally acclaimed performance artist whose work maps the troubled fault lines of identity. Her combination of poetic imagery and political satire has earned her wide attention and placed her work at the center of America’s culture wars. Hughes was among the first students to attend the New York Feminist Art Institute, an experiment in progressive pedagogy launched by members of the Heresies Collective. In the early ’80s, Hughes became part of the Women’s One World Café, also known as the WOW Café, an arts cooperative in the East Village established by an international group of women artists. Hughes has performed at venues across North America, Great Britain, and Australia including the Walker Art Center, the Wexner Center, the Guggenheim, the Yale Repertory, the Drill Hall in London, and numerous universities. She has published two books: Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler and O Solo Homo: The New Queer Performance, co-edited with Dr. David Roman, with two other anthologies in production, Animal Acts: Performing Species Today, co-edited with Una Chaudhuri, and Memories of the Revolution: The First Ten Years Of the WOW Cafe, co-edited with Carmelita Tropicana. Hughes is a professor at the University of Michigan, with appointments in Art and Design, Theatre and Drama, and Women’s Studies.

Cynthia Carr was a columnist and arts reporter for the Village Voice from 1984 to 2003. Writing under the byline C. Carr, she specialized in experimental and cutting-edge art, especially performance art. Some of these pieces are now collected in On Edge: Performance at the End of the Twentieth Century. She is also the author of Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Artforum, Bookforum, Modern Painters, the Drama Review, and other publications. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. Carr lives in New York.

Emily Roysdon is a New York– and Stockholm-based artist and writer. Her working method is interdisciplinary and recent projects take the form of performance, photographic installations, printmaking, text, video, curating, and collaborating. Roysdon developed the concept “ecstatic resistance” to talk about the impossible and imaginary in politics. She is editor and cofounder of the queer feminist journal and artist collective, LTTR. Her many collaborations include costume design for choreographers Levi Gonzalez, Vanessa Anspaugh, and Faye Driscoll, as well as lyric writing for The Knife and Brooklyn-based JD Samson & MEN. Roysdon’s work has been shown at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, “Greater New York” at MoMA P.S.1, “The Generational” at the New Museum, Manifesta 8, Participant Inc., New York, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, the Power Plant, Toronto, and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Recent solo projects include new commissions from Performance Room, Tate Modern, Visual Art Center, Austin, Art in General, New York, The Kitchen, New York, Konsthall C, Stockholm, and a Matrix commission from the Berkeley Art Museum. In 2012, she was a finalist for the Future Generation Art Prize.

Malik Gaines is an artist, writer, and curator. With the collective My Barbarian, Gaines has performed and exhibited internationally. Solo exhibitions have included Participant Inc., New York, the Hammer Museum and Human Resources, Los Angeles, and Museo El Eco, Mexico City. Performance and video works have been presented at MoMA, The Kitchen, the New Museum, the Whitney Museum, and the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, LACMA, MOCA, and REDCAT in LA, the Power Plant in Toronto, De Appel, Amsterdam, El Matadero, Madrid, Galleria Civica, Trento, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, and others. As a writer and curator, Gaines has explored the politics of expressivity and representation. He has written about the work of Andrea Bowers, Mark Bradford, Glenn Ligon, Sharon Hayes, and Wangechi Mutu, among others, and has organized exhibitions including: “Quadruple-Consciousness” at Vox Populi, Philadelphia, “Fade: African American Artists in Los Angeles,” for the city of Los Angeles, numerous exhibitions and programs for LAXART, Los Angeles, where he served as Curator, and “Made in L.A., 2012,” the first Los Angeles biennial, co-organized by a curatorial team from the Hammer Museum and LAXART. Gaines holds a PhD in Theater and Performance Studies from UCLA and is Assistant Professor of Art at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Alexandro Segade is a video and performance artist based in Los Angeles. His recent solo projects have been presented at LAXART and REDCAT in Los Angeles, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, and Vox Populi, Philadelphia. Segade is a founding member of the collective My Barbarian, whose fantastical, political performances and videos have been exhibited at the Hammer Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles; The Kitchen, the New Museum, the Whitney Museum, MoMA P.S.1, Joe’s Pub, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Participants Inc. in New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City, the Power Plant, Toronto, De Appel, Amsterdam, El Matadero and ARCO, Madrid, Galleria Civica di Arte Contempraneo, Trento, Italy, the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, and Rawabet Theater / Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, for which the group received an Art Matters grant in 2008. My Barbarian was included in the 2005 and 2007 Performa Biennials, the 2006 and 2008 California Biennials, the 2007 Montreal Biennial, and the 2009 Baltic Triennial. Segade has received grants from the Durfee Foundation (2010), Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (2010), and Art Matters (2008, 2011). Segade received an MFA from UCLA in Interdisciplinary Studio Art in 2009.

Presented in conjunction with “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star.”

Sponsors

This program is made possible, in part, through the support of the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Education and public programs are made possible by a generous grant from Goldman Sachs Gives at the recommendation of David B. Heller & Hermine Riegerl Heller.

Support for the exhibition is provided by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg, the Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Fund.

The accompanying exhibition publication is made possible by the J. McSweeney and G. Mills Publications Fund at the New Museum.

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