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Contemporary artists investigating and reflecting on the LGBTQ + community

Gay Pride Month, also known as LGBTQ Pride Month, is celebrated in June in the United States and other countries around the world. It features lively and uplifting parades with floats and celebrities, joyful parties, seminars, picnics and parties as some of its main events. Pride Month honors the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community’s years of battle for civil rights and the continuing pursuit of equality of justice under the law, as well as the achievements of LGBTQ people.

Gay Pride, or LGBTQ Pride, was commonly celebrated in the United States on the last Sunday in June (although there were several exceptions) which eventually became a month-long celebration and is now celebrated around the world. We observe how some contemporary artists use art to communicate their feelings about queer issues and focus on five artistic practices that honor this trait through their artistic work.


Bar Boy, 2019, Oil Painting, Salman Toor |  Gay Pride Month |  Ironing world
bar boy, 2019, Oil Painting, Salman Toor Image: Courtesy of Gandalf Gallery on Flickr

With a caustic color palette and scribbled technique, Salman Toor, a Pakistani artist living in Brooklyn, adds homosexual brown boys to the scene. The artist’s exhibition addresses the importance of the LGBT diaspora through the lens of the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Toor’s paintings excite and provoke attention with every stroke, drawing inspiration from familiar places and highly intimate situations. Toor creates works that contain social scenarios that fold into each other, adding another degree of complexity to the art, similar to the social scenes created by French impressionist artists such as Renoir and Manet. Toor’s paintings depict homosexual diasporic groups, including hugging brown men, a mehfil (party) scene with brown men playing traditional South Asian instruments and dejected looking brown men at the immigration desk standing with their luggage on display. Toor has created some contemporary artwork dealing with the brown queer identity police. In his works by him, he meticulously compares the disparities between the private and public life of the homosexual diaspora.


Nature Self-Portrait # 7, 1996, Gelatin-silver print, Laura Aguilar | Gay Pride Month |  Ironing world
Self portrait of nature # 7, 1996, Gelatin silver print, Laura Aguilar Image: Courtesy of Rocor on Flickr

Laura Aguilar she has created spontaneous photographs of herself, her friends and family, the LGBTQ + and Latinx communities, and of herself in photos and films that are often political, personal art forms and straddling artistic, feminist and queer performances. Aguilar used her naked body as an open and bold protest against the racial, gender, cultural and sexual colonialism of Latin identities in her now iconic triptych. Three flying eagles since 1990. Her practice evolved spontaneously as she struggled to come to terms with and negotiate her sexual orientation and ethnicity, her battles with depression and hearing dyslexia, and her acceptance of her grand structure.


Portrait – Amigxs, no. 3, Camillo Godoy Image: Courtesy of camilogodoy on Instagram

Camillo Godoy began asking friends and partners to take pictures in her studio four years ago. While partly inspired by the historic men’s magazine Amigo, Godoy chose to call his initiative AMIGXS, which is a gender-inclusive form of the Spanish term for “friends”. The photographs were collected by the artist in three issues of an offset printed magazine. They convey an “omnium collectum” of physical desire across gender and ethnic identities, sexualities and body shapes when combined. “AMIGXS ‘photographs defy racial, gender and sexual norms,” ​​Godoy told the OCDChinatown gallery for his exhibit. “My work is influenced by queer, Latino, feminist and black perspectives. My photographs celebrate friendship and insist on love as a way of life to imagine different ways of being subversive “.

Drawing from a wide range of nude portraits, Godoy’s photographs reveal an attention to form that is as classic as it is contemporary.


Untitled (Holding Horizon) choreography by Alex Baczynski-Jenkins Image: courtesy of ephemerafestival on Instagram

Alex Baczynski-Jenkins is a choreographer and visual artist interested in the queer politics of desire, vulnerability and collectivity. Through emotion, empathy and personal choreography, he tries to mediate queer embodiment and relationality. He is interested in queer affection, embodiment and sensuality. His practice reveals patterns and politics of desire through gesture, collectivity, touch and relationality. Through his work, he focused on his choreographic technique and the relationships between queer gestures, collectivity, intimacy and duration of transformation. He is also a co-founder and member of Kem, a queer-feminist collective based in Warsaw that works at the intersection of sound, performance, dance and community development.


Faces and Phases at the 2019 Venice Biennale by Zanele Muholi |  Gay Pride Month |  Ironing world
Faces and Phases at the 2019 Venice Biennale by Zanele Muholi Image: Courtesy of Sam Saunders on Flickr

Zanele Muholi, a South African visual activist and photographer, he grew up in Umlazi, Durban, and now resides in Johannesburg. They received their MFA in Documentary Media from Ryerson University in Toronto in 2009. For over a decade, they have chronicled the lives of black, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex lesbians in South African townships. In response to the persistent persecution and violence of the LGBTQ community, Muholi started an ongoing project, Faces and Phases in 2006, where they show black and transgender lesbian people. Muholi’s stated goal is “to rewrite a black, queer, trans-visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our struggle and presence during the height of hate crime in SA and abroad.” Muholi’s beautiful images contribute to a more democratic and representative environment of South African LGBT history The artist thinks that through the use of positive images, they can alleviate the stigma and negativity associated with LGBT identity in African society.

(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))

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