Ever feel like gay culture was co-opted more for the delight of outsiders as opposed to being any real statement on pop culture progress even if it’s masquerading as such?
That’s the rationale behind “Queer(ed) Performativity,” a new exhibit running April 13-May 20 that aims to draw attention to the way queer bodies are “lauded, celebrated and put on display when in the service of white heterosexual consumption.” The exhibition “underscores the incisive ways in which artists respond to, subvert and refuse a politics of respectability and heteronormativity vis-a-vis both art objects and the body.”
It’s housed at the D.C. Arts Center (2438 18th St., N.W.) and features the work of artists such as Eames Armstrong, Antonius Bui, Hosey Corona (featured last week), Alexandra “Rex” Delafkaran and more. Local curator Andy Johnson conceived the idea and is overseeing the installation, which will feature both new and previously exhibited works in a variety of mediums. The opening is April 13 from 7-9 p.m. Full details at dcartscenter.org.
Johnson says the exhibit explores art, the body, sexual politics, queer politics and more.
“If you think of Jennie Livingston and ‘Paris is Burning,’ Madonna and ‘Vogue,’ ‘Lip Sync Battle’ and its appropriation of drag and house ball culture and Jack from ‘Will & Grace,’ when queer bodies and queerness become visible in the public sphere, there’s a set of terms and conditions that must be met,” the 25-year-old Erie, Pa., native says. “The artists in the show visualize the ways in which queerness is forced to conform and perform while also performing queerness on their own terms.”
Johnson is also director of Gallery 102 at the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design and a contributing editor for DIRT (dirtdmv.com), an online arts publication about art in the D.C. area. He came to Washington eight years ago for college.
He’s single and lives in Mt. Pleasant. Johnson enjoys Netflix, Hulu and all forms of TV in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out to friends when I was 18 and my family when I was 20. The hardest person to tell was probably my father.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
Audre Lorde. She is someone I go to for advice, guidance and fulfillment in my own work.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
The institution of marriage doesn’t appeal to me, but if I were to have some sort of commitment ceremony, it would be in a remote place with no one else but me, the other person and the photographer.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
I think in one way or another one can argue that all issues are LGBT issues, but for me right now, it’s the dismantling of white supremacy. That includes myself, the way I operate and experience the world, and the systems in place that uphold white supremacy.
What historical outcome would you change?
This is cliché but probably the 2016 election.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I was raised on VH1 reality television, so probably the entirety of “I Love New York.”
On what do you insist?
My Palmer’s Cocoa Butter chapstick.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
I actually deleted my Facebook almost three years ago. Probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I also deleted my Twitter about a year ago. So I got nothing for you.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“Let Me Sleep for Five More Minutes.”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I wouldn’t want to be anything but who I am right now. Heterosexuality bores me.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I am a spiritual person. I don’t make it known to most people. I stay away from anything that is explicitly organized.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Never become complacent or comfortable.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To be honest, my bed. I’m in a very committed relationship with my bed and sleep.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
LGBT stereotypes, to me, are fabricated and perpetuated by straight people. I don’t really care what straight people think of me.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar”
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Eight-hour work days probably. And also starting work at 9 a.m.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My library. I have an obsession with books.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Everything happens for a reason, good or bad. I’ve learned that I can’t control everything and it’s destructive to try to.
I’ve found my niche here. I’m a Cancer, a creature of habit. I like a good routine.