Feminist and queer perspectives: artistic practices and personal experiences
Adopting an intersectional approach, this panel gathers Latin American and Latinx artists working in Canada with feminist and/or queer perspectives. A common ground is evident within the presenting panelists as they all connect their personal experiences as women and/or queer artists yet without falling into notions of homogeneity. These artists work in different languages: Spanish, English, and French. They explore various disciplines: performance, photography, textile work, drawing, digital media, and writing. They often address their queer or feminist identities, and critically analyze these through fictional or autobiographical accounts. They seek to resist institutional structures of oppression on social media and challenge the Latin American tradition of concretismo and abstract art. The panel articulated and highlighted common interests and struggles that both unite and diversify the panel. The spectrum of artists found within the presentations generate and offer spaces of intersectional thinking and practice.
Born in Chile and based in Montreal (Québec), Nicholas Dawson is a writer, scholar, and editor. He is the author of La deposition des chemins (La Peuplade, 2010), Animitas (La Mèche, 2017), Nous sommes un continent. Correspondance mestiza (Tritpyque 2021, with Karine Rosso), and Désormais, ma demeure (Triptyque, 2020) whose English translation by David Bradford, titled House Within a House, will be published by Brick Books in 2023. He is currently completing a doctoral thesis in Arts Studies and Practices (UQAM), titled Vueltas. Memory, Borders, Exile, and Diasporic Narratives.
Talk: Read + Write + Dance. Thoughts On a Queer/Latina Depression
Nicholas Dawson will read excerpts from his non-fiction book House Within A House (Brick Books, 2023, translation by David Bradford) originally titled Désormais, ma demeure (Triptyque, 2020), in which photographs, poems, stories and essays contaminate each other in order to offer a plural reflection on the intimate, literary and political aspects of depression. Echoing works by Sara Ahmed, Ann Cvetkovitch, José Esteban Muñoz, and Gloria Anzaldúa, among others, the essays of this presentation consider depression at the intersection of Latinx cultures and queer subjectivities.
Francisco-Fernando Granados is an artist and writer born in Guatemala. He lives in Toronto, the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. Since 2005, his multidisciplinary practice has traced his movement from convention refugee to critical citizen, using abstraction performatively, site-specifically, and relationally, to create projects that challenge the stability of practices of recognition. These projects extend from drawing and performance into installation, publishing, and public art. Granados' work has developed from the intersection of formal painterly training, working in performance through artist-run spaces, intellectual engagement with queer and feminist theory, and early activism as a peer support facilitator with newcomer communities in unceded Coast Salish territories.
Talk: Who claims abstraction? Queer Contextual Practice as Refuge
The presentation explores the aesthetic-theoretical perspective of my experience as a queer refugee of Latin America to Canada, through the language of abstraction. The choice of the non-figurative as a visual field for developing this articulation of an experience of exile, is based on conceptual methodologies that I began to learn about and reflect upon during my transition from being a refugee to being a citizen, in the first decade of the 21st century. This opportunity of being, not being, and once again becoming a citizen, corners me between two colonial formations and their systems of representation. The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada puts the burden of proof of admissibility to the country on those who seek asylum at its borders. This asymmetrical burden, which is supposedly unquestionable, forces those of us who seek asylum to narrate our experiences in a way that is legible and believable within the frameworks determined by these institutions. It is in this way that those of us who manage to stay, become residents and citizens. It is also in this way that they assimilate us, making us acceptable subjects, and stack us onto the foundations of the colonial project of a nation that understands itself to be essentially modern. Here, the refugee's needs become a weapon of colonialism on the other side of a traumatic process of authentication. This position is desired by those who flee and compromising for those of us who stay. Between a rock and hard place, who then, can maintain a tangible relationship with the incalculable, the illegible? Who is entitled to abstraction? (Translated by Susannah Daniels)
Liliana Gonzalez-Jarquin is an emerging artist born and raised on the east side of Montreal. Coming from parents who fled the Salvadorian civil war, she integrates shared memories of a familiar and unfamiliar land into her work. Growing up with the internet around her, Liliana focuses on how technologies can influence and shape our identities, beliefs, and culture, and primarily how they can affect marginalized communities. Her most recent work, Micro-Nude, started as a healing art project and is now evolving into research on understanding the social construction generated through social media.
In opposition to Facebook Community Standards: Adult Nudity and Sexual Activity, whose rule has reinforced gender inequalities, sexism, and racism, and in opposition to the use of artificial intelligence as a surveillance tool on social media, I have created Micro-Nude (2020), which are pictures that contain nudity resized into a smaller size.
Micro-Nude’s first experience started in 2020, playing with the social media user’s expectation of the misrepresentation of the Latina body and the notion of voyeurism. Micro-Nude is aware of the capacity of the viewer’s desire to screenshot and zoom into the image. The voyeur who will try to explore this option with the Micro-Nude will only see a body reduced to pixel form due to the size of the picture.
Understanding the marginalization and sexualization made on BIPOC, LGBTQ++, and female bodies reflected in technologies, the second experience consisted of testing the algorithm’s limits to find a space to resist. Micro-Nude found a glitch in the AI of Instagram and used it to do art to resist the cyber-stress environment and reappropriate the narrative surrounding the female body. According to the transparency center of Facebook, their AI can delete more than 90% of the publications that go against community standards.
Camila Salcedo is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and facilitator born in Venezuela and based in Tkaronto, working primarily in textiles, digital art, and community art practices. There are a few threads that run through her work including: camouflage to blur lines and break down social assumptions; memory as an empowering tool for time travel and creating new speculative realities; and upcycling and recycling to piece-together patchworks both materially by reusing and mending textiles, and digitally, by appropriating found audio and video footage. She is also a co-founder of Colectivo Satelital, a collective of six Venezuelan-born artists based in Toronto, creating digital platforms for emerging artists.
Talk: Performance Art as a Tool for Identity Searching
Camila Salcedo will speak about the use of performance and textiles to embody personas and characters, as tools for self-expression of queer and feminist identities. Exploring gendered assumptions and stereotypes, Miss Universe (2017-present) addresses the prevalence of the pageant industry in Venezuela and its effects on the Venezuelan woman. New drag persona, Camilo el Salsero will explore masculine coding through performing as a salsa singer and reclaiming the traditional men's garment of the guayabera. Through costuming, Salcedo mixes longstanding Latin America historical garments and with futurisms.
Diogo Rodrigues de Barros
Diogo Rodrigues de Barros is a historian with degrees from the University of São Paulo and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris). He is currently a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Montreal, where his research focuses on the formation of Latin American intellectual networks in art historiography during the 1970s. Also at UdeM, he recently conceived and organized "What Art Histories for Present Times?", a 2020-2021 speaker series for the Montreal’s Interuniversity PhD Program in Art History. Since 2015 he has dedicated himself to speaking about Latin America to Canadian audiences and newly started leading workshops on Canadian and Quebec cultures in Brazil.