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Where Pride meets Art

Tate Britain launches Pride celebrations with ‘Queer and Now’

Culture

The Tate are celebrating Pride in London by launching the Queer and Now festival, looking at the history and influence of queer art in the UK. Cristian Angeloni speaks to guest curator E-J Scott.

E-J Scott, the guest curator of the Queer and Now festival and curator of the Museum of Transology, has made sure this year the event is going to encompass even more sections of the LGBTQI+ community.

“This year we are continuing to work with Pride in London but have also worked with our new partners UK Black Pride, Trans Pride Brighton and Regard (representing LGBTQI+ people with disabilities). By inviting me in from the Museum of Transology as guest curator, we have made a commitment to exploring the diversity of artists who represent our interlocking communities. It’s bigger, queerer and more diverse.”

But if you think the festival is going to be a walk through portraits and paintings you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a combination of panels, dances, music and performances. And interaction with the public is key.

‘A festival for us, by us’

“The whole day is centred around the public being part of the action. There are art activities with trans life drawing, and LCF fashion students are illustrating the best queer looks. There’s also a Q&A with original members of the oldest European gay men’s leather club who appear in the international premiere of the film 69, and large community discussions like the Intergenderational Questioning Circle.  The queer community is at the heart of the programme — it’s for us, by us,” continued Scott.

The festival doesn’t just look back at the history of queer art, as last year’s Queer British Art (1861-1967) celebrated, but it sheds a light into the future of LGBTQI+ communities, their creativeness and innovation. Several of the artists showcasing their work took part in the Tate Learning programme — a project aiming to reflect the diversity of the communities we live in — providing a fresh and “queer cultural cutting edge” to the event, according to Scott. 

Queer art in British culture

Queer art has a legacy of critical artistic portals of society from the underground up, with a history of being at the front line of activism.

“The UK’s queer art and culture has always been at the cutting edge of creativity, progressive thinking and political expression.  Tate Britain’s collection is bursting with it – just look at the All Too Human exhibition now featuring Bacon and Freud. Today’s queer artists continue the tradition of creative freedom that our queer experiences of gender and identity facilitate,” said Scott.

What not to miss

With so many activities and events going on during the festivals, it’s hard to choose which ones yo go to. 

According to the curator himself, “don’t miss Bird La Bird’s Queer People’s Travelling History Show and pick up more than a book at Timberlina’s Library and Archive Speed Dating. See songbird Sadie Sinner (founder of the Cocoa Butter Club) and her evening bunch of queerdos and join a curator’s queer tour of the exhibition All Too Human.  There are pop-up talks by artists including Sadie Lee across the marking the launch of the Queer Walk Through British Art, as well as food and a queer fayre. All day and all night are absolutely packed with queer festivities.”

Ten leading queer museologists — including chair of the LGBTQ+ network at the V&A Zorian Clayton, the National Trust’s Prejudice & Pride Programme Curator Rachael Lennon, filmmaker and founder of rukus! Federation, Topher Campbell and Joe Galliano, CEO of Queer Britain — will also talk about the way queer art lets us look at the past and what future paths British queer art is bringing to light in the What Does a Queer Museum Look Like? panel. 

It is a packed series of events that’s not to be missed.

 

Queer and Now will take place at Tate Britain on Saturday 23rd June from 2 pm until 10 pm. The festival is free to attend, open to all, and will ensure that language and acronyms used in reference to one’s identity will be respected throughout the event. 

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