What is a mark? In a settler colonial society we have a very solidified perception of what “counts” as worthy of articulating. Programmed in an imperial tradition, we literally count success and attach dates to significant momentous occasions, times in history when someone is said to have “accomplished something” that should be celebrated and then written down to measure its worth, annually. HIStory has tried to erase the Other in its wake of calculating difference, asserting authority, superiority, a bar to be set by systems of power to ensure the success of a single story.
2018 marks 10 years of the Queer Arts Festival and Pride in Art’s 20th year as an artist-led organization. 2018’s curated visual art exhibition DECADEnce remembers the Other marks and interrogates what we collectively choose to celebrate. By engaging queer artists across disciplines DECADEnce explores marks that live beyond the page, numerical devices, and quantitative data; the mark that lives in actions unnoticed, voices unheard, lost stories of self, and races won in forgotten Herstories/Ourstories.
DECADEnce marks a time for us to revisit, and therefore represent and archive, the stories of us by celebrating and honouring our community of trailblazing queer ancestors, the stories untold, the unmeasurable progress, visceral pleasures, tragic loses, the almosts, the push back, the unnamed, the unmarked, the dead, the blood-sweat-and tears. These marks continue to live in and inform our actions, our reality to fuel a discourse that challenges perceptions of success by sharing the stories of how we got here and what sacrifices and struggles it required.
Queer artists have always been making marks; before, during, and “after” queerness was determined of value for mainstream commodification. For 20 years this organization has been a platform for the voices and visions of fearless queer artists to challenge normative misconceptions in both art spaces and the greater society. Still today, we are living with the burden of an uncertain future and a precarious present that denies our freedoms, the self-governance of our bodies, minds, and artistic visions. This mayhem of hate, to the shock of all-realities-white, is just another Tuesday, in the life of the descendants of bodies stolen, kept sick, and illegal.
Our marks draw circles, wherein the repeating struggle continues in the company of a rejuvenated resistance, reviving of power and strength through art.
These marks are where we find joy, love, thrive, and create to feed our spirits and develop thick skin. We are time travelers, we have been here before, and will do it again.