TRIGGER: Drawing the Line in 2015

Gallery hours: 12PM – 9PM weekdays; 11AM – 4PM weekends

QAF’s curated exhibition honours the 25th anniversary of Kiss & Tell’s legendary exhibition, Drawing the Line. 19 participating artists challenge, provoke and push boundaries. What sets you off?

Curated by SD Holman
Artists –

Kiss & Tell: Lizard Jones, Persimmon Blackbridge, Susan Stewart
Afuwa Aiyyana Maracle Amy Dame Bryan Bone Claude Perreault Coral Short Dana Ayotte Emilio Rojas James Diamond Jonny Sopotiuk Jono Nobles Kathy Atkins Persimmon Blackbridge Rosamond Norbury Storme Webber Suzo Hickey Toni Latour

In the article on “Gay and Lesbian Art” in the Oxford Art Online, one exhibition is singled out as best embodying the spirit of queer arts: the 1990 project Drawing the Line by the Vancouver collective Kiss & Tell. In this project, Susan Stewart photographed her colleagues Persimmon Blackbridge and Lizard Jones, and women viewers were given markers to draw lines on the walls at the point at which the increasingly explicit imagery became unacceptable to them. Audiences, however, responded in a decidedly non-linear way, and impassioned debates flowered on the walls around the images. Drawing the Line toured internationally and had an enormous influence – it is not uncommon for lesbians of a certain age to say this exhibition “changed my life.”
Twenty-five years later, QAF honours this epochal piece of Canadian queer heritage with a retrospective show of the original images, together with a curated exhibition in which artists are asked for contemporary responses to this pivotal exhibition. In 2015, our lines in the sand are very different than in 1990. In an age when the internet has made pornography ubiquitous, the feminist firebombings of Red Hot Video stores that triggered Drawing the Line now seem very far away. Even the distinction of asking women to write on the walls while men were invited to write in a comments book, relatively simple in 1990, would be unthinkable in today’s queer communities, in which the gender binary is increasingly questioned. However, this is not to say we no longer draw our battle lines: today, it is common in our community for “Trigger Warnings” to be placed prior to texts or performances, to warn viewers of content they might find offensive, uncomfortable, or “triggering” of past trauma. The contemporary artists curated into this show will be asked what Kiss & Tell’s project triggers in them, and how they see themselves pushing boundaries today.

Coming with a friend or 3? Get a QAF Flex-Pass. Go to 4 shows, take a friend to two shows, bring a group to one show – at only $69 for a pass, it’s a screamin’ deal.

This event is scent-reduced, and fully wheelchair accessible. For more information on how to support a scent-reduced event, please visit For a full accessibility audit of the space, visit Radical Access Mapping Project.