Hickey (ending June 30th, at Little Berlin) was an opportunity for me to revisit some of the themes that I’ve been turning over in my head for the last few months while I’ve been working on a project about representations of queerness.
HICKEY irreverently presents tales of intimacy and identity through the works of six queer men. By using traditional mediums such as paint, paper, pencil and fiber, and then subverting their applications, the artists in the exhibition simultaneously make light of and shine light on the absurdities of finding one’s self and then sharing with another
The nifty little booklet’s overture lays out the question at the intersection of art and queerness: sharing. When does being become an act? Do you shout your homosexuality from the rooftops? Where is your fur suit hidden? The revelation of the self (and the degree to which all art is autobiographical) keeps me up at night. Is the artist the narrator of the text? (Can this be turned over without becoming another question?) Coming from the study of books and thinking in literary terms, raised on narrative Disney cinema, I’m always interested in where the story comes into things. A viewer has the option to become an interpreter and assign a meaning to a work. Some works in this exhibit call attention to the narrative element while others evade that temptation. The ambiguous space is, of course, only to be expected here: the artist had to find their sense of self; the viewer has to go searching as well.
“That’s my issue with modern art, I think it’s hard.”
(a conversation overheard while I was typing this piece in a public space)
It’s been lovely to interact with a few of the artists at Hickey. As I keep looking at the modern art on the walls (and I was there when at least one of these pieces was being worked on–what’s more modern than last week?), I wonder about the aspect of hardness. The images that keep popping up in these pieces are reactions to other works and captions of lives and locations (real and imagined) of the artists. There are many soft surfaces and tactile subjects in this hard world of modern art. Little things pile up and works talk to one another. The animated characters of one drawing could easily be lounging in the inked living rooms on gold paper hanging on the wall across. The long tapestry made from wigs and costume jewelry cries out to be touched, just like the large blue suspension from the ceiling cries out for a dance with their passing cousin, the disco ball. The loving image in the beautiful curve of a pair of glasses could be in the same scene as the parchment dripping from “a squeeze of the hand.” The artists tried to find varying selves and have come together in these rooms. I have so much more to consider. Let’s talk to one another.