As transgender issues, artists, and theory have received greater recognition in contemporary art discourses and institutions since the 2000s, activist Reina Gossett and art historian Jeannine Tang will discuss the role of art and artists in recent movement building and how contemporary art figures in critical trans politics today. This will feature a screening of the film Criminal Queers (2012), followed by a conversation with filmmakers Eric A. Stanley and Chris Vargas.
Criminal Queers visualizes a radical trans/queer struggle against the prison industrial complex and toward a world without walls. Remembering that prison breaks are both a theoretical and material practice of freedom, this film imagines what spaces might be opened up if crowbars, wigs, and metal files become tools for transformation. By expropriating the “prison break” genre, the question of form and content collapses into a rhythm of affective histories as images of possibility materialize even after possibility itself is foreclosed. Follow Yoshi, Joy, Susan, and Lucy as they fiercely read everything from the Human Rights Campaign and hate crimes legislation to the non-profitization of social movements. Criminal Queers grows our collective liberation by working to abolish the multiple ways our hearts, genders, and desires are confined.
This event is supported by the New Museum, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. A parallel conversation on recent organizing and movement building will be hosted by Sylvia Rivera Law Project on Friday June 8 at 6 p.m.
Reina Gossett is a trans activist working at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project as Director of Membership and was formerly director of the Welfare Organizing Project at Queers for Economic Justice as well as a Soros Justice Fellow on staff at Critical Resistance.
Eric A. Stanley works at the intersections of radical trans/queer aesthetics, theories of state violence, and visual culture. While completing a PhD in the History of Consciousness department at University of California, Santa Cruz, Stanley, along with Chris Vargas, directed the films Homotopia (2006) and Criminal Queers, which have been screened at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, and SF Cameraworks, among numerous other venues. Stanley is also the editor of Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (AK Press, 2011) which was recently selected as a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.
Jeannine Tang is an art historian teaching as Academic Advisor at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, while completing her doctoral work at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Chris E. Vargas is a film and video maker based in Oakland, CA, whose thematic interests include queer radicalism, transgender _hir_story, and imperfect role models. He earned his MFA in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. Since 2008, he has been making, in collaboration with Greg Youmans, the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love…with Chris and Greg. Episodes of the series have screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers. His solo video projects include Extraordinary Pregnancies (2010), Liberaceón (2011), and ONE for all… (2012).