In a day and age in which society’s binary structure seems to be super fixed, a new generation of artists challenges this structure by using identity as a medium within their practice. They use their platform as an artist to showcase the suffocating rigidity of identity but also the possibilities to play with identity. By doing so they show us an opportunity to blur the lines, and not only escape this binary structure but defy it as well. What can we learn from these artists? Should we all be more fluid in our identity? Together with artists and theoreticians, we look at the playfield of identity.
With amongst others:
The famous drag queen Rupaul once said: “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag”. However, it seems that we choose a certain drag, and stick to it: we live in a time in which identity seems to be more rigid than before, or at least the rigidity of identity has become more evident. On the one hand, you have social media such as Instagram where we have created personas, or identities, which need constant feeding. On the other hand, we have the increasingly complicated identity politics debate. Together with artists and theoreticians, we look at how fluidity can help us with a more intersectional approach. What are the dangers of ending up like Rachel Dolezal?
Dionisis Argyropoulos Ioannou
Performance artist Dionisis Argyropoulos Ioannou, also known as his drag persona Dynno Dada (1994, Athens) is interested in expressing highly personal experiences that derive from acquaintance with people and everyday life. Using queer aesthetics and alter egos, Ioannou composes work for club life or theatrical set-ups. In his performances, Dionisis uses his body and voice in an amateur, yet confident way. His pop references and blunt, over the top actions are balanced within an insisting, liberating chaos. During Dragging about Art Dynno will provide us with a performative intervention.
Redefining realness in the context of social identity and fashion is the foundation of all the work of Ari Versluis. Either with the challenges of commissioned work, staged documentary photography or with the highly acclaimed art project of Exactitudes; the culture that we create to define ourselves is examined. Together with Ellie Uyttenbroek, Versluis has been documenting the way subcultures and social types produce, stabilize and disseminate meaning in the social arena for the last 23 years. By registering their subjects in an identical framework, with similar poses and a strictly observed dress codes the Exactitudes series provide an almost scientific, anthropological record of people’s attempt to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity. What did he discover during his research on identity?
Janna Michael is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the Department of Arts and Culture Studies at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her PhD research investigated status distinction mechanisms among different social groups of people in North-Western Europe. How is status distinction practised and negotiated while cultural hierarchies and symbolic meanings are changing? Despite plenty of research on cultural consumption, relatively little is known about the meaning attached to these activities, and how they relate to identity. Janna will provide an introductory mini-lecture on the mechanics of identity and identification.
In the video-based practice of Puck Verkade ‘Frame or be framed’ is a deep-rooted motif as an inquiry into the complexities of (mis)representation. She aims to interrogate the manipulative power structures inherent to using the lens as a medium. In her work, she uses humour as an entry into the stickiness of subjectivity. Embodied explorations result into speculative constructions composed of re-appropriated found footage, sampled pop music, low res animations and personal recordings. About her recent work Puck states that is is “a fictionalized gestation of thoughts and struggles, a personal reverb of social, feminist and political issues, that I’ve tried to unpack over the past two years.” During Dragging about Art she will expand on this and tell us about her research into how social control informs the framing of our lives and the stories that instruct our bodies and construct our identities.
The founders of the contemporary art platform Unfair, Peter van der Es and Adam Nillissen, will share an introduction to the theme of “Dragging about Art”, in which they will use a wide variety of sources and examples ranging from Youtube videos to the most innovative artists.