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A 'Queer' New Gallery Breaks Down Art World Walls

Inside the gallery organizing exhibitions to promote “post-identity agendas.”
November 18, 2015, 5:00pm
David Rappeneau, Untitled (2014), Suite of 8 drawings (8 of 8) Acrylic paint, uorescent marker, ballpoint pen, charcoal pencil, pencil on paper. 8.5h x 11.75w inches (21.6h x 29.8w cm). All images are courtesy of the artists and Queer Thoughts, New York

In 2012, in a move reminiscent of celebrated curator and Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans-Ulrich Obrist’s 1991 Kitchen Show—staged in his actual kitchen—emerging artists Samuel Lipp and Miguel Bendaña became gallerists by opening a tiny gallery in a walk-in closet in Bendaña’s apartment. “The space presented itself,” says Bendaña, of what they'd come to call Queer Thoughts. Over the last three years, the art gallery has shown a mix of artists all working to challenge heteronormative ideas of identity. Hundreds of people filled the tiny space to see exhibitions like Drew Olivo’s Zoo, Pia Howell’s Homosapien 2, and Chloe Seibert’s Hi It’s Me. The directors of the now New York-based Queer Thoughts have staged over 30 exhibitions that, according to Lipp, “promote post-identity agendas” in a way that push the boundaries of queerness and pose new possibilities for galleries beyond the globally profit-driven blue chip market-gallery system.

Installation view of David Rappeneau and Mindy Rose Schwartz.

“From the space being so small we were trying to figure out what to call it,” says Bendaña. “I kind of thought maybe ‘Teeny Tiny Gallery’ or ‘xs gallery,’ and then I thought that the gallery should be called ‘Queer Thoughts’ and began to contemplate what the space could be.” The gallery has exhibited both straight and LGBTQIA+-identifying artists because Lipp and Bendaña are interested in art that traverses sex politics and even the dated usage of the word "queer." “We also just show artists that we like,” adds Bendaña.

Currently on view at the gallery are two artists who apply the aesthetics of gender non-conformity to their practices. “David Rappeneau makes highly rendered illustrative figurative drawings. He doesn’t reveal his personal biography publicly, which goes in line with our post-identity concept," describes Lipp. “He’s putting the onus on the viewer to define the work even though a lot of the work shows very sexualized figures without titles,” observes Bendaña.

The artist Mindy Rose Schwartz explores “colloquial craft techniques, which were the purview of what girls and women did at home in the 1970s or 1980s, a style of craft that’s kind of like handiwork. In a way, the materials that she uses and the aesthetic forms that she chooses to proliferate are marginalized cultural forms and are often under appreciated,” explains Lipp. The philosophy of Queer Thoughts also includes a commitment to artists who exist beyond even labeling their work "queer" but envision their practices beyond binary notions of identity.

“At this point our goal is give exposure to the artists we have made a commitment to that weren’t showing,” says Lipp. “We are artists and putting on exhibitions are like their own artworks. Our programming is often non-commercial," explains Bendaña. “We just try to put on interesting exhibitions.”

David Rappeneau, Untitled (2014), Suite of 8 drawings (7 of 8), Acrylic paint, fluorescent marker, ballpoint pen, charcoal pencil, pencil on paper. 8.5h x 11.75w inches (21.6h x 29.8w cm)

Mindy Rose Schwartz and David Rappeneau are on view at Queer Thoughts through December 13. For more information, click here.

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