Today at Comfort Station we have the opportunity to bring you another program in our guest curation series "I'm Not Sure What You Mean" a series of shorts on growing up queer, the strangeness being unfamiliar to the world around you and the intricacies it creates in communication. The program was guest curated by Rebecca Ladida and Jess Lee.
I had the chance to grab tacos with Rebecca to talk about her ongoing projects and the process of putting together this program.
R: I'm very interested in that relationship between the form and the content. Jess and I met and realized that both of us work through collaboration, sometimes you have a vision but it's realized through collaborating with others.
This program makes it very apparent, the negotiation of being queer in a structured world, but doesn't shy away from the funny, gentle awkwardness of youth. It takes on the moments in between, as the title suggests.
R: I've been trying to have intersectionality as a practice and not just as a framework or analysis, and that means finding POC artists and making new relationships and caring and loving them. That's the basis of where it starts, I think.
"Queering the narrative" has become kind of a vague idea tied to LGBT artwork, but these films do offer is a challenge to familiar structures in all modes of the expression. Kristin Li's film takes traditional Chinese folklore and experiments with its retelling. Many of these stories approach the formative experiences by engaging in the retelling and recreating of those structures. This happens literally in some films, including Rami George's mash up of Lebanese culture with his narration, and less literally, more hilariously in others, especially in When the Kid Was a Kid, the opening short film.
R: Curating has become an art practice for me - you present things, but its beyond just conceptualizing and presenting it becomes immersive. I see my style of curating as a mash-up practice of extending dialogue into space.
The first short in the program When the Kid Was a Kid, a funny and charming story all told through the interactions of children. The program consists of two parts The first half being 3 non-english shorts and the latter half being 3 film in english. Between these two parts is a brief intermission and space for dialogue. The sequence of these stories allows a maturation as each film explores a different part of being an adolescent, beginning with the story of children in Iran and their recreation of their environment. In watching any curated program, you begin to see the grammar of a larger idea. This program's final film shows a much different, more aggressive response to the world that attempts to reinvent, instead of recreate.
"to have a conversation with some artists and also non-artists about these subjects... this is just one tentacle of our project."
Rebecca is co creator of In/habit roving art series, whose current curatorial project is Plants and Animals: on Monsters, Cyborgs and other Hybrid Creatures. It’s an immersive and continuing interdisciplinary arts effort interrogating preservation and nature. Hybrid was a word that came up a lot in our discussions of this program and in the conversation about art venues.
R: I do what I call slow curating, what I'm trying to do now with Plants & Animals, as of two weeks ago we started a month long - or longer - reading group to engage and bring theory outside of academia to have a conversation with some artists and also non-artists about these subjects... this is just one tentacle of our project. To not just have this one night thing, the tentacular structure - fits with the idea of slow curating, even though it's really intense and not exactly slow.
"a really constant focus on holding space, and that means safer spaces for weirdos."
The book is called Staying With the Trouble by Donna J. Haraway and the group meets at No-Nation Art Lab on Milwaukee on Sundays (beginning with this Sunday 1-3).
R: In/habit is kind of a trickster platform, which moves from DIY modus oparandi and more institutional art spaces, we've had one In/habit event at the Chicago Cultural Center... The idea is to push boundaries and cross contaminate, but with a really constant focus on holding space, and that means safer spaces for weirdos. All sorts of people come into Chicago's Cultural Center, and it's not the same thing as holding space in places for weirdos, by weirdos. Our events have always felt hybrid, I really appreciate that about what kind of people have been coming to the events. I want to bring those political conversations into the institutional art venues, but I'm always thinking about that idea of holding a fairly safe space... It's not just to bring the conversations to these people but it's also to bring these artists [to these spaces].
A lot of what we talked about was collaboration and the necessity of collaborating as we operate today. I'm always interested in talking to our guest curators and local artists about how they see and interact with Chicago's art scene.
R: I'm from Montreal, which is an amazing city, but the funding of the Arts informs our relationship, the public economy informs our relationship. Here there are a couple of grants we can apply to but people aren't constantly competing they want to collaborate. And we also need to. What I do in Chicago I could not necessarily do in all cities, we need those DIY spaces.
Find out more about Rebecca's participation in In/habit Roving art series at http://www.inhabitarts.com.