Vancouver’s annual Queer Arts Festival (QAF) is a great opportunity to see some of the best that the queer art world has to offer. Here’s a quick rundown of the 10-day-long event’s must-sees.
Drama Queer: Seducing Social Change
They aimed high when they asked for Jonathan D Katz. He will curate the annual signature piece, a visual arts exhibition that runs the length of the festival. The art historian, activist and scholar is perhaps best-known for his 2010 exhibit at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. He shocked many by putting well-known works in a queer context. His star-studded exhibit at QAF will explore politics and emotion in the work of queer artists.
Tuesday, June 21–Thursday, June 30
(An Art Song Lab team creates new music./Nabal Maysaud/Queer Arts Festival)
SongLaunch: World Premieres from Art Song Lab
Festival organizers are eagerly anticipating the result of this first queer edition of Art Song Lab. Run by the Canadian Music Centre and the Vancouver International Song Institute, the week-long program pairs poets with composers, and then those are teamed up with singer/pianist teams. The pieces of music these units create are referred to as “art songs.” The QAF edition runs June 20–25, and the final concert, SongLaunch, will see the world premiere of the 12 entirely new art songs that the collaborations will generate.
Saturday, June 25, 2pm
(Work like the piece above by artist TL Cowan will be featured in Queer Noise./TL Cowan/Queer Arts Festival)
Snide tweets, sarcastic memes, endless elbow-related CBC bulletins: many of us experience politics in a banal, numbing way. Artists engage with the issues that concern us in fresh, inspiring ways — that’s kind of their thing. Curated by E Hearte, this evening of politically themed “media art” (that is, art that relies on an electronic or technological component) should be anything but stale. It includes contributions by more than a dozen Canadian artists, including TL Cowan, Elisha Lim and the never-disappointing Cree artist Kent Monkman, well known for appearing in his video pieces as his drag alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle.
Saturday, June 25, 7pm
(Participants have been working on The Pink Line for months./Fay Nass/Queer Arts Festival)
The Pink Line
When it comes to things like dating, what’s life really like for people of colour in Vancouver’s queer community? Through a series of workshops, The Frank Theatre Company helped people from different cultural backgrounds — not necessarily actors; they’re just people — develop their personal stories into a play. The resulting piece is a series of monologues about racism. But it’s hilarious. It’s intended to be light-hearted and accessible — “We don’t want a cry-for-me play,” says director Fay Nass.
Sunday, June 26, 7pm
(Performers in A Gossamer Bit/Mark Maryanovitch/Queer Arts Festival)
A Gossamer Bit: Contact Contemporary Music
While it’s hard to imagine any genre that composer Allison Cameron’s music fits easily into, it’s not difficult to come up with words to describe it — complex, lovely, pleasing, radiant, experimental, transcendent, complex. Released in 2015, the album A Gossamer Bit has the Contact Contemporary Music chamber ensemble (which is already known for defying genres) performing some of Cameron’s pieces. This concert features the ensemble performing not only pieces from the album, but works by Julius Eastman, Jerry Pergolesi and Ann Southam.
Monday, June 27, 7pm