Hey Shameless Blog Readers,
Having sadly been unable to attend the awesome 2qtpoc-montreal Show for the city’s Pervers/cite, I did get the opportunity to connect with one of the amazing artists from the show, Textaqueen. Their website reads:
“Texta” is Australian for felt-tip marker and TextaQueen is Australia’s felt-tip super-hero. Renowned for use of the humble felt-tip marker to boldly re-interpret the tradition of the salon nude, TextaQueen explores politics of sex, gender and identity in tangent with ideas of self-image and inter-personal relationships. Texta’s practice articulates delicate interplays between vulnerability and empowerment, intimacy and exhibitionism, and subjective and collective expressions of feminist, queer, and cultural identities.
I asked Textaqueen some questions about their work and involvement with the show. Check out what they had to say!
What interested you in being part of the 2-qtpocmontreal show?
Elisha Lim and I had been excitedly in contact via the internets, having had friends show us each other’s work. I am usually showing work in such a different context; not particularly 2 spirit / queer / trans or people of colour focused, so to be amongst rad 2qtpocs in this context is “refreshing.” While my “bigger” art shows bring my work into “broader” contexts, it is important to me to show my work in contexts where people seeing it may relate to it from their own experience. Showing my work alongside other people talking about queer and racialised identities is a rare dream come true. In other contexts the queerness of the work has literally been called quirky or kooky, and in my more recent work that talks about race, they may be sold on their edgy exoticness. It’s great to be part of a show where those themes are centered when being queer and racialized are central themes to my life. I’m not quirky and exotic to myself, and it’s great not to have me or my work treated that way here.
The series of prints I’m showing is from a drawing series I made in Australia called “We Don’t Need Another Hero” where I asked people of colour to pose as outlaws of their post-apocalypse as fictional movie poster portraits, with the apocalypse obviously being colonialism. Collaborating with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of colour living in Australia was a generous offering of trust in me as the artist to depict their racial identity and their fantasised revenge on colonialism. It had me reflect deeper on my own relationship to colonialism as a non-Indigenous person of colour living in Australia. Of course many people don’t have the luxury of not thinking about how colonialism has shaped their experience, and I’m finding it hard to conceive how my work translates here, but I would hope it has people think about my work in relation to their own experience, whether as colonised people or people who benefit from colonialism, or as both.
What is the heartbeat of your artwork?
Humour, emotion, exchange, collaboration. I seek out people to work on my artwork with me; I might be the person putting marker to the page, but the models propose the characters, costumes and fictional scenarios to represent themselves, here in this series, as survivors of their apocalypse. We would often meet up several times emotionally ranting about race and racism, colonialism, decolonisation, before the concept of the picture started coming together. It varied between models, from them having specific compositional ideas, title, wording of the poster design to leaving it up to me how to carry out their character concept. I’d draw them in their pose live in my studio, then redraw it into the design that we’d usually flesh out together, with me showing them prototype sketches of the design along the way before I’d make the final artwork.
What was the collaboration part of the art show like for you? How has your work, perspectives on your work shifted, working with other 2-qtpoc artists and groups?
My work is collaborative but I didn’t work with other artists in the show, for the show, only met them through the show. I lived in Montreal for about a year in 2006, and it’s been interesting to return with new perspective. I’m not even sure I would have understood the importance of 2QTPOC six years ago. I grew up in majority white environments, and up until the last two years, moved about in very white circles, that I was relating to because of my queerness, politics, class, yet I always felt at the edge trying to belong, even if I couldn’t quite acknowledge this to myself. My work and myself has changed a lot in the last few years, working with more people who connect with more aspects of my identity, including being both queer and racialised, who often have other aspects of their identity which may make them feel more ‘at the edge’ than I. That my work is well-known and I can support myself through it in Australia I feel is a lot to do with my privileges such as class and education that have given me many of the opportunities that I have had. Not that I don’t work hard, but what I’m trying to say in answer to the question is that generally working with other queer and racialised people has made me question more what my work can bring to different contexts and the importance to me of it being in different contexts. That in some, depending on how you look at it, my work is “educational” of “outsider” experience, but how important it is to me to show my work and hear people talk about the content of my work resonating with what they are already thinking about and experiencing.
What was the difference, as an artist, working with 2-qtpoc communitites for Montreal’s Pervers/cite? Was there a difference in working with members of your own communities?
It’s an odd question, because I’m constantly thinking of what “community” means to me, that it’s really not something defined entirely by one aspect, or two, of my identity. That when you define community by certain aspects, people are going to feel marginalised within that community for other aspects of their identity. Not sure how to get around that, as connecting on what we share is so important, but it’s also important to acknowledge our differences and try to prioritize those more marginalized within our marginalized “community/communities”! And how to do that so we can start seeing ourselves as centered in our own experience, rather than most often in a space of marginalization, I’m still working that out for myself. So that doesn’t really answer the question, but that’s what it made me think about. I now generally work with other queer people of colour to create my artwork, though I generally show it in whiter spaces, often commercial and institutional, though I’m always making accessible forms of the art like poster prints, the space of 2QTPOC is a great affirming re-charge for me. Usually I’m showing my work in contexts where the queerness of the work has literally been called quirky or kooky, and in my more recent work that talk about race, where me and my work might be literally being sold on our ‘exotic’ quality. So to be showing where these themes are centred, just as they are in my own life, is a sustaining reminder of both who I am and why I make the art I do. I’ve have always liked to think about my work as centering the identity of the model, that the exchange that is thought about first is that between me and the model over the viewer and the artwork, and then that it appeals most to people who can connect with it because of how it relates to who they are, rather than who they are not.
What would you like to say to Shameless Magazine readers (if anything)? (these are young women and trans youth mostly)
In relation to my work, I hope people get a chance to read the stories behind each piece, as the models wrote a fictional movie blurb to go along with the movie. They’re on my website!