Based on popularizing queer iconography in contemporary culture (as exemplified by feminist electro-rockers La Tigre), painter Kirsten McCrea’s “Hot Topic” series of stylized portraits celebrates and commemorates feminist and queer icons as identified from the eponymous song. Many of the individuals named and portrayed have come to be held as the pioneers of a subversive feminist queer movement from the late 1960s and early 1970s and the series as a whole represents a culmination of a canonized feminism.
Challenging this concept of re-representing subversion from the past, video/craft/performance artist Wednesday Lupypciw poses the question: What can be discovered from imitating the past, especially if we are aware of its limitations? Lupypciw’s installation and corresponding performance are a direct reaction to McCrea’s paintings and commissioned specifically from a craft perspective. Arguably more urgent than the lineage found in fine art, the craft world’s encouragement for emerging artists to build directly on the work of previous practitioners depend on technique sharing and guild-style communal culture as grounds for innovation. For this premiere performance of “Beige Decade(s)”, Lupypciw sits perched atop the nest of weaving, books, and crafty ephemera observing the classic iconography of feminist weaving while attempting to capture (and not differentiate) what she sees and what inspires her.
Lupypciw’s repetitious act of leafing through black and white textbooks and “project idea” books filled with monumental vagina sculptures and fuzzy natural fibres is processed in conjunction with chic contemporary practices, where knitting has achieved mass conformity and sassy “FUCK YOU” cross-stitches are de rigueur in any young females’ home décor. While the highly informed retro aesthetic multiplies to infinity, the righteously lopsided vulva posters from three decades ago have a certain singularity and bold naiveté that speaks to the forgotten history of subversion.
Corissa O’Donnell’s “Ladies” series problematizes the history of feminist subversion further. Challenging our consumption of reconfigured nudes as inspired from men’s magazines from the same era as Lupypciw’s craft lineage and McCrea’s subject matter, O’Donnell’s fetished ladies arguably offers the most prevalent representation of subversion in contemporary culture that is seemingly post-feminist and trapped within feminism.
Gathered together, the connections and disconnections between these three artists aim to prompt audiences to reevaluate what still constitutes as a “Hot Topic” in our increasingly post-ism identities.
- Amy Fung, Curator
Presented by Exposure: Queer Arts & Culture Festival
Featuring: Wednesday Lupypciw, Kirsten McCrea, and Corissa O’Donnell
the ARTery (9535 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton) 8 p.m. FREE