Trigger: Drawing the Line in 2015

Cor Flammae. Image by belle ancell

Cor Flammae. Image by belle ancell

QAF’s theme Trigger: Drawing the Line in 2015 celebrates the 25th anniversary of a landmark work of queer heritage: the photo-based exhibition Drawing the Line, by the BC artists collective Kiss & Tell (Persimmon Blackbridge, Lizard Jones and Susan Stewart).Cited in the Oxford Dictionary of Art as the quintessential example of LGBT art, Drawing the Line presented increasingly provocative images of lesbian sexuality, gave the audiences pens to draw on the walls, and asked them “Where do you draw the line?” Created in the context of anti-porn feminists fire-bombing Red Hot Video stores while Canada Customs confiscated shipments to Little Sister’s Bookstore, Drawing the Line toured internationally and became a rallying cry for freedom of speech and sex-positive queer art.

We draw our lines today very differently than in 1990. As “trigger warnings” placed before art to alert viewers about potentially traumatizing material become increasingly common, QAF 2015 questions what we are sacrificing for safety’s sake. As author Jeannette Winterson wrote: “Art has deep and difficult eyes and for many the gaze is too insistent… We avoid painful encounters with art by trivializing it, or by familiarizing it… Every day, in countless ways, you and I convince ourselves about ourselves. True art, when it happens to us, challenges the “I” that we are… Art objects. The nouns become an active force not a collector’s item. Art objects.”

QAF 2015 includes Kiss & Tell’s first new event in 13 years, a partial remount of Drawing the Line and a curated exhibition asking contemporary visual artists where they draw their own lines. In performances and workshops, artists explore flashpoints like religion, BDSM, disability, and gender panic, while others draw lines of connection instead, triggering inspiration by tracing their lineage to the queer artists who blazed trail before us.

Trigger: Drawing the Line in 2015 | What sets you off? | Jul 23-Aug 7

At the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre | 181 Roundhouse Mews | Davie @ Pacific | Vancouver BC

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