Artistic Director’s Statement
The Queer Arts Festival is based on the sovereign, unceded land of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwəta’Ɂɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. I ask you to join me in acknowledging the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh communities, their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. QAF also acknowledges that it was founded upon exclusions and erasures of many Indigenous peoples, including those on whose land we are located. This acknowledgment demonstrates our commitment to continued work to dismantle the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism.
Queer Arts Festival: Wicked July 16 – July 26 | Queer Arts Festival 2020
QAF’s Wicked reimagines identity politics, exposing the implications of homonormativity as erasure. This past decade has seen the mainstreaming of gay; sexual difference wins approval so long as it is palatable, marketable, and doesn’t stray too far from bourgeois notions of taste and morality. The commodification of queer experience is inextricably linked to the pathologization of the queer body, where medical and sociological interventions adjudicate which anatomies and passions are accepted as authentic.
There’s no place like home for the Wicked Witch of the West, green by devilment and through her magical aberrance. QAF 2020 forsakes the yellow brick road that leads only to a man behind a curtain gentrifying our desires. Instead, QAF revels in the quintessentially queer traditions of scandal and excess.
Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attractiveness of others.Oscar Wilde
QAF 2020 opens amidst a long overdue flowering of worldwide protests against decades racist police violence—violence primarily targeting Black and Indigenous people, often those with disabilities. If recent discourse around our liberation has focused on inclusivity, it bears asking, what kind of society are we asking to be included in? Which of us are being granted inclusion, and at what price? And for those among us who have graduated from rejection to tolerance to mainstream acceptance, has that shifted allegiances?
These questions gain added urgency as the 2020 pandemic upends our experiences of public and private spaces. “The virus” suddenly means a very different virus than the one that has dominated queer consciousness for decades. The contrast between public health response to HIV and coronavirus could not have been starker. With calls to Stay the Fuck Home, those who could comply found themselves ushered into the strange disembodiment of living online, while those who couldn’t risk contagion and increased violence. Anti-Asian racism went viral. Meanwhile, the opioid epidemic raged on, killing more people in BC in May than COVID-19 had all year.
This is the context in which we had to completely reimagine QAF to make it happen at all. Social distancing measures changed our capacitiy to be queer together almost overnight. Many arts venues closed altogether, putting scores of artists out of work, while others moved online, curating mediated and disembodied experiences. But who are we as queers, without our bodies?
So QAF 2020: Wicked comes to you through the internet, mail and public art platforms. While some programs had to be postponed to next year, QAF remains steadfast in our commitment to artists. Performances and talks run 11 days from our digital hub an Art-Zine that reimagines the festival in a printed format. Keep your eyes out for our Two-Spirit Public Art Project, a series of posters in transit shelters across Vancouver, created by interdisciplinary artist Kinnie Starr that also promotes the festival dates.
As Well as the Flash Collective out on Mount Pleasant Community Art Screen Presented in partnership with grunt gallery
Keep Loving. Keep fighting.
SD Holman, Artistic Director