Living in the Queerantine
Nocturnal X Midsumma Lunar New Year Disco - photo by Tanya McCulloch
As a community we have come from isolation, many of us feeling alone, disconnected and distant even in a crowded room. Often we combat that by making a strong sense of community, finding places and spaces to take over, constructing chosen families. In events such as Midsumma Carnival and Midsumma Pride March, we see all of these communities and groups come together and announce proudly “We are not alone, we are queer and we are here”.
Due to the recent state of the world, we find ourselves once again being physically isolated, separated from our spaces and communities, potentially better equipped and supported than in our younger years but still distant. Our communities have always been quick to adapt to new technologies and systems to get around restrictions society has pushed on us. Our next Midsumma Festival may not be until January 2021, but we are still here and wanted to provide support and a space to share artistic ideas that artists have developed in response to this time of enforced seclusion.
One of Midsumma’s leading values is “We promote, develop and celebrate queer arts and culture. We bring audiences and artists together.” As part of our year-round development work, we wanted to act as a catalyst for the creation of some new small works of art and showcase them through the digital ‘stage’ of our Midsumma website.
Stereotypically, people perceive ‘Queerness’ as a performative element, being as bright, colourful and energetic. But there are so many more layers to Queerness and our artistic expression, who we are, and what we are outside of community and interpersonal relationships.
The Selected Participants
We have selected 10 artistic projects to receive up to $1,000 each to create a new piece of art that can engage through Midsumma’s online channels. The works could be shared throughout June and July, via eNews, blog posts and social comms.
The selected participants are presented below, in alphabetical order.
Queer painter Lian Beveridge will be creating a series of watercolour portraits as “an intimate peek into the daily lives of queers doing all the weird and wonderful things we’re doing during this strange and difficult time.” They’ll be capturing a diverse cross-section of our communities to counter isolation: “Showcasing the various ways that we’re coping as a collective allows people to see themselves and allows young queers to visualise potential futures.”
Queer artist and illustrator Frances Cannon is well known for their black and white illustrations often revolving around queer love, self-love, and fat love. Frances coined the phrase 'Self Love Club' and has had 10 successful solo shows in Melbourne/Narrm and beyond. They are also the co-director of queer not-for-profit Pink Ember Studio in Coburg where they run Body Positive Life Drawing workshops. Frances will be illustrating a small comic series about the bittersweet yet hopeful ups and downs of flirting, yearning and loving in isolation.
Writer and self-described young brown queercrip Patrick Gunasekera will be writing a collection of memoirs in essay form, tackling concepts of resilience, laughter, exhaustion, economic precarity, self-love, subverting gazes and seeking multiplicity through an incisive lens of queerness, disability and brownness. “In the queerantine, in order to move out of the pandemic with more social solidarity and universal justice than we moved into it, we must build bridges between the communities within our communities.”
Hybrid filmmaker and video artist Logan Mucha focuses on community participation, human rights and queer identity. For this new work, Logan will capture powerful and glorious stereoscopic portraits. “They say queer communities are forged on the dancefloor and much of how we define our queerness is through how we aesthetically present ourselves in communal situations. Through quarantine, the queer community has largely been stripped of our public-facing self-expression, so these moving portraits aim to give queer agency back to the individual during this crisis.”
Kombumerri saltwater man salllvage (Rowan Savage) works at the intersection of queer club culture and connection with Country, bridging the tensions between abstraction and emotion, the wild bush and the dancefloor, the personal and the social, authenticity and reconstruction. salllvage will be creating a mixed-media audiovisual performance incorporating vogueing, movement, motion-control generated music, and archival imagery and sounds of landscape and Country. “As a queer Aboriginal artist whose work draws deeply both on Country and on the queer dancefloor, I have been experiencing the difficulties of isolation keeping me from Country and pulling me in different, but related directions in terms of embodiment during this time. My proposed work aims to embody the tensions the quarantine has created in this way, to use my body and music to provide a form of resistance (yet still flowing with the nature of our present reality).”
Theatre practitioner Mark Salvestro will be expanding his practice into film to create a short comedy about regional and rural experiences of coming out during COVID-19. “How many repressed queers are out there considering coming out during this time? And what might their unconscious minds be up to?” This clever spin on the coming out narrative speaks to returning home, isolating with family, country life and internalised homophobia, with the now ubiquitous Zoom meeting popping up in unexpected ways.
Film-maker and circus performer Susannah Thomas will be creating a short film work exploring ideas of isolation, dating, queerness and rural life: “Being a rural queer you are already in isolation… Because of COVID-19, it is almost like the rest of the world is suddenly dating the same way rural queers have been for years.”
Multidisciplinary queer artist Glynn Urquhart works with digital animation, projection, photography, motion design and performance. Glynn will be creating a short animated film depicting abstract concepts surrounding queerness, mental health, community, intimacy and physical distance. “How do we feel queer when we are alone? My own philosophy is that being queer means to question, and this can be a gift.”
Performer, writer, poet, comedian and burlesque artist Nikki Viveca will be presenting spoken word, poetry and music reflecting queer, trans and asexual experiences of isolation. “I aim to reflect the isolation intrinsic to queer experience, in all its intimacy, vulnerability and quiet power, and which is of newly heightened significance. Representing my communities in a way that is textured - glamorous but also relatable, humorous but also heartfelt – is the key motivation behind my art.”
Librarian by day, collage artist by night, Simon Welsh is creating arresting, multi-layered bricolage images that focus on COVID-19, queerness and LGBTQIA+ rights, but also reflect current trends, news media and how we see the world when in isolation. “I ask the audience to look more carefully at the world around them and discover beauty in the queerest of forms.”
Midsumma Futures is a nine-month development and mentoring program for early-career artists and culture-makers, kicking off in October and running until May.Midsumma Futures
Midsumma Pathways is a nine-month mentorship program for LGBTQIA+ artists with disability that provides a queer context for up to twelve LGBTQIA+ participants with disability to develop their artistic practices.Midsumma Pathways