20th Annual National Queer Arts Festival

June 3 – 30, 2017
SOMArts Cultural Center

Presented by Queer Cultural Center

On June 3rd, 2017, the opening exhibition of this year’s National Queer Arts Festival will be organized by Creative Labor – a visual art platform that grew out of the Queer Cultural Center’s twenty years of queer cultural production.

June 3, 2017

Large scale video projections by cutting edge Queer, Trans, POC performance/video artists investigate the culture of the #Selfie. Over 100 Selfies from QCC and NQAF’S BFFs. Plus RETRIEVAL featuring 6 video portraits culled from a global network of LGBT historical archives.

On June 3rd, 2017, the opening exhibition of this year’s National Queer Arts Festival will be organized by Creative Labor – a visual art platform that grew out of the Queer Cultural Center’s twenty years of queer cultural production.

Curated by Creative Labor’s artistic director, Rudy Lemcke, the exhibition features the work of eight nationally recognized performance/video artists whose work reflects the cutting edge of the complex and intersectional issues we are encountering as queer artists and cultural activists. The exhibition consists of large-scale video projections that will be continuously screening in the main gallery of SOMArts Cultural Center through the month of June. The featured artists include: Kia LaBeija, Awilda Rodriguez Lora, Cassils, M. Lamar, A.L Steiner, Boychild, Tina Takemoto, and Evan Ifekoya.

The Main Gallery exhibition also includes four video projections that include #Selfies solicited from of artists, writers and cultural activists who have been presented by the National Queer Arts Festival over the past twenty years, including:

Rotimi Agbabiaka, Bren Ahern, Indira Allegra, Kim Anno, Anna AntiPalindrome, Ann Aptaker, Robert Atkins, Blackberri, Cooper Bombardier, Hugh Buck, Maureen Burdock, Jerome Caja, Amy Cancelmo, Lorenzo Cardim, Lenore Chinn, Veronica Combs, Susa Cortez, EG Crichton, Jamee Cursan, Greg Day, Alwyn de Wally, Juliana Delgado, Sean Dorsey, Cheryl Dunye, Zeph Fishlyn, Storm-Miguel Florez, Karen Fox, Jackie Francis, Gary Freeman, Stathis Gerostathopoulos, Katie and Sasha Gilmartin, Nicki Green, Raquel Gutierrez, Harmony Hammond, Jason Hanasik, Henrietta Hellstern, Alex Hernandez, Osa Hidalgo-de la Riva, Thea Hillman, Emily Holmes, Celeste Chan & Maxine Hong-Kingston, Audacious IAm, Xandra Ibarra, Jabbati, Vee Jenkins, Michael Johnstone and David Faulk, Jordy Jones, Jeff Jones & Glen Jackson, Aaron Kantor, Dorian Katz, Kadet Kuhne, Landa Lakes, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Viet Le. Gabrielle Le Roux, Evie Leder, Madeline Lim & Kebo Drew, Nick Macierz, Oscar Maynard, LOL McFiersen, Rumi Missabu, Mia Nakano, John Paradiso, Emily Park, Celestial Pearl, Pamela Peniston, Beth Pickens, Baruch Porras-Hernandez, Sarah Pritchard, Ramekon, Hadas & Margo Rivera-Weiss, Larry-bob Roberts, TC Roberts & Anand Jay Kalra, Favianna Rodriguez, Timothy Roseborough, Julio Salgado, Dorothy Santos, Kevin Seaman, Gina Stella dell’Assunta, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stevens, Horehound StillPoint, Gregory Stock, Anton Stuebner, Amy Sueyoshi, Tina Takemoto, Michelle Tea, Virgie Tovar, KB Tuffy Boyce, William Cricket Urlich, Jim Van Buskirk, Natalia Vigil, Shawna Virago, Debra Walker, Mona Webb, Angie Wilson, Ed Wolf, KFC Woman, Sarah Guerra & Rio Yanez, Fallon Young.

Migrating Archives: Retrieval
SOMArts Annex Gallery

In the Annex Gallery at SOMArts Cultural Center, Creative Labor will present RETRIEVAL, created by artist by E.G. Crichton. This video projection will feature portraits of artists and activists, past and present, from archives around the world that collect and preserve LGBTQ histories.

Archives represented include: Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant, Philippines; The Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives; The Fonds Suzan Daniel, Belgium; GALA, South Africa; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Historical Society, San Francisco, USA; Glasgow Women’s Library, Scotland, United Kingdom; Hall-Carpenter Archives, London, United Kingdom; Il Cassero and Centro di Documentazione, Bologna, Italy; Labrisz Lesbian Association, Hungary; The Leslie Lohman Museum, New York, USA; The National Archives, London, United Kingdom; rukus!, United Kingdom; Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries, Virginia, USA.

Any queer cultural history is a history of the desire to self-present and construct images of the self to others.

From Self to #Selfie examines queer self-representation in the light of the revolutionary transformation of culture that is taking place through digital technology.

The exhibition asks: Where do I “exist” in the network of information that is instantly made available through a touch of our smart-phone’s interface? Where do I “exist” in the multiplicity of screen instances, recursively generated by the image I call #selfie?

The exhibition offers eight explorations of the body mediated through the digital screen. The intimate acts of performance encoded by these videos with their gestures of attention and affection together manifest a complex queer cultural ecosystem – a queer public commons within which the self becomes re-presented and re-imagined in relation to a referential field of other screen selves presented in the exhibition.

The individual performances of self become unanchored from the moment of their creation (as live event) and become fluid agents in a network of provisional queer meanings. The networked self exists in this new relational order as ecstatic-self – as selfie.

These performances of self demonstrate hyper-dynamic materialities that speak to ongoing conversations about gender as unstable and fluid constructs. The exhibition offers a queer place that is at once physically located as a communal self-affirming space of desire and simultaneously dislocated, immaterial and unknowably queer. The queer self is encountered through the representation of the self, embedded in a system of interpersonal relationships and ecologies of meanings though which it is articulated, reproduced and projected.

The exhibition proposes that the mediated Self as #Selfie, presented by the queer artists in this exhibition, affords us a vision of the rich potential to explore/refuse/resist/parody existing gender paradigms and to stake out singularly “queer” identities as they unfold in these new forms of queer sociality, affinity and agency – queerly emerging in a relational field of meaning on the screens of our networked world.

Twenty years ago we offered our first exhibition and our festival as “a place that is continually open to itself and its re-creation.” We honor that sentiment today and offer anew our self-portrait as #Selfie.

Rudy Lemcke

From Self to #Selfie
Exhibition Background

Twenty years ago the Queer Cultural Center (QCC) presented its first annual National Queer Arts Festival. It was a pivotal moment in the life of the queer community in San Francisco – a community decimated by the AIDS pandemic.

Out of the strength of our collective past and our movement’s lineage of social justice embodied by events like the Compton Cafeteria Riot, Stonewall, ACT-UP protests, the legacy of Harvey Milk and countless individual acts of liberation, the Queer Cultural Center was born.

We turned our attention to queer artists for our vision of the future following the belief that cultural activism and visual culture are transformative agents of social change. Our first visual arts exhibition was called Face: Queer Self Portraiture. Face was intended to bring the artistic community together and forge a path forward. Fifty artists presented self-portraits in an array of media, from drawing and painting, to photography, sculpture and collage. The exhibition mirrored a cross section of the community and was a testament to the resilience of our resolve and a bold affirmation of queer identity and community.

“We wanted a place to start; to begin a serious discourse on queer culture; a beginning that was not an absolute ideological position but a place that would be continually open to itself and its re-creation; a place that celebrated difference as its mode of being and justice as its practice. We wanted to present ourselves not as an abstraction (a theoretical category, a political identity group or an economic brand) but as an array of unique individuals who share this “queerness”. We gathered these artists together in hope of creating this place, this center. We decided to start with “introductions” … We decided to call this first gesture, FACE.”

~ Rudy Lemcke, 1998. Introduction to FACE, curated by Lenore Chinn and Rudy Lemcke

Twenty years have passed. There is still no cure for AIDS but our community has survived and continues to evolve and unfold in unforeseen and unexpected ways. New manifestations of collective action brought about by technological innovations are transforming the way we interact with one and other and building relationships and communities that were unimaginable twenty years ago. A new generation of artists is making work that rests on the shoulders of the LGBTQ political struggles of the past, and the movement for social justice, cultural equity and progressive change continues.

In order to fully represent the magnitude of Queer Visual Culture being produced in the Bay Area, Creative Labor was born. Now as sister organization, fiscally sponsored by the Queer Cultural Center, Creative Labor, produces the Annual National Queer Arts Festival Visual Arts Exhibition at SOMArts Cultural Center.

For the 20th anniversary exhibition of the National Queer Arts Festival, From Self to #Selfie returns to the idea of self-portraiture and reconsiders the Face of Queerness.

Rudy Lemcke is and artist and curator who lives and works in San Francisco. He was a founding member of the Queer Cultural Center and is Artistic Director of Creative Labor. His recent curatorial projects include, Creative Labor: Queer-It-Yourself (QIY) 2015 and GlitterBomb, 2014.

His artwork has been exhibited internationally in galleries and museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art; DeYoung Museum, Pacific Film Archive/Universtiy Art Museum, Berkeley, California; San Francisco Art Institute / Walter McBean Gallery, SF Camerawork, New Langton Arts, Wadsworth Atheneum, University Art Gallery, Stoney Brook University, New York; Grey Art Gallery, New York; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida; The Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana; Musee D’Art Contemporain de Montreal, Canada; and the Vargas Museum, Manila.

He has been a guest lecturer and speaker at the University of California at Berkeley and Santa Cruz, Mills College, San Francisco State University, The San Francisco Art Institute, The California College of Arts and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

His work was recently included in the Art, AIDS, America exhibition organized by the Tacoma Art Museum,WA., October 3, 2015 – January 20, 2016; Zuckerman Museum of Art Kennesaw State University, GA, February 9 – May 21, 2016; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, NY, June 23 – September 11, 2016; and finally Alphawood Exhibitions LLC, Chicago, December 1, 2016 – April 2, 2017.

Featured Artists
boychild is the artist-oracle who invokes spirits, casts cosmic spells and enraptures onlookers with her Delphic stage presence. A volatile, visceral fluidity informs her presentations and acts, as well as a lofty determination to dissolve the boundaries between gender rigidities, dogmatism, discrimination, artist, and audience. Hailing from the Bay Area, boychild (properly written in all lowercase letters) has masqueraded as everything from goth-glam cyborg to double-edged debutante to magical, maniacal mutant muse in film and fashion. Aggressive, alluring and alien-like with a fremd aura, the style savant excels at hacking and hijacking gender clichés and stages a specifically he-she-it form of histrionics. No wonder she’s often compared to Cindy Sherman, Leigh Bowery and John Waters. With a solid support system from San Fran to Sweden, oodles of admirers on social media and a cool as a cucumber personality, this visionary performance artist, painter, poet, polymath, make-up artist and mystic is certainly coming into her own. Her performance presence is always a kinetic condensation of meanings and styles: tensions between archetypal and utopian elements, otherworldy incarnations, post-punk personas, queer chumminess, bile rage and intense, glitched-out expressiveness. boychild’s bang-up and BLISSful methodologies might be thought of as a kind of latter-day Dadaist pushing the limits of representation, androgyny, exhibitionism and ontology. Respect!

Cassils Listed by the Huffington Post as “one of ten transgender artists who are changing the landscape of contemporary art,” Cassils has achieved international recognition for a rigorous engagement with the body as a form of social sculpture. Featuring a series of bodies transformed by strict physical training regimes, Cassils’ artworks offer shared experiences for contemplating histories of violence, representation, struggle, and survival, often juxtaposing the immediacy, urgency and ephemerality of live performance against constructed acts for camera in order to challenge the “documentarian truth factor” of images. Bashing through gendered binaries, Cassils performs transgender not as a crossing from one sex to another but rather as a continual process of becoming, a form of embodiment that works in a space of indeterminacy, spasm and slipperiness. Drawing on conceptualism, feminism, body art, gay male aesthetics, Cassils forges a series of powerfully trained bodies for different performantive purposes. It is with sweat, blood and sinew that Cassils constructs a visual critique around ideologies and histories.

Recent solo exhibitions include MU Eindhoven, the Netherlands; Trinty Square Video, Toronto; and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. Cassils’ work has also been featured at Institute for Contemporary Art and The National Theatre, London; MUCA Roma, Mexico City; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City; ANTI Contemporary Performance Festival, Kuopio, Finland; Museo da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo, Brazil; Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo, San José, Costa Rica; and Deutsches Historishes Museum, Berlin, Germany. Cassils is the recipient of a 2015 Creative Capital Award. They have also received the inaugural ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art, Rema Hort Mann Visual Arts Fellowship, California Community Foundation Grant, MOTHA (Museum of Transgender Hirstory) award, and Visual Artist Fellowship from the Canada Council of the Arts. Cassils’ work has been featured in New York Times, Wired, The Guardian, TDR, Performance Research, Art Journal, and Vogue Brazil and was the subject of the monograph Cassils published by MU Eindhoven in 2015.

E.G. Crichton is an interdisciplinary artist and teacher who lives in San Francisco. Her work uses a range of art strategies and media to explore social issues, history and site-specific subject matter. She often collaborates within community settings and across disciplines with other visual artists, performers, writers, scientists, composers and others. Her work has been exhibited in art institutions and as public installations in Europe, Asia, Australia and across the US. She has also received grant and fellowship awards from the Creative Work Fund, Southern Exposure, Ragdale Foundation, the KunsthØgskolen (Bergen, Norway), Anderson Ranch Art Center and the San Francisco Arts Commission, to name a few. She recently retired as a Professor of Art at the University of California Santa Cruz.

Evan ifekoya‘s current work investigates the possibility of an erotic and poetic occupation using film, performative writing and sound, focused on co-authored, intimate forms of knowledge production and the radical potential of spectacle. Their ongoing project ‘A Score, A Groove, A Phantom’ explores archives of blackness, sociality and inheritance as they diffract through queer nightlife and trauma in the present moment. Ifekoya is an Art Foundation Fellow in Live Art for 2017.

Ifekoya’s recent work has been presented at: Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire; New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2017); Transmission Gallery, Glasgow; Serpentine Galleries, London; and Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town (2016). Recent performances include Jerwood Space, London and Whitstable Biennial 2016. Upcoming exhibitions include ‘A Net Made of Individual Knots at Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh(solo) and ‘Mene Mene Tekel Parsin’ at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridgeshire. Collaborative projects include Collective Creativity: Critical reflections into QTIPOC creative practice and Network11.

‘My Tender Touch Screen’ is one in a series of four works which seek to queery the music video format.
Video, 4m by Evan Ifekoya, 2014

Animation by Squid de la Mer
Filming by Katarzyna Perlak
Found footage from the Prelinger Archive
Music by Applefish

Made with the support of Grants for the Arts funding, Arts Council England.

Kia LaBeija is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in the heart of New York City’s theatre district, Hellz Kitchen. Her work explores the intersections of community, politics, fine art and activism. As a visual artist she stages digital portraits as theatrical and cinematic re-imaginings of non fictional events to spark conversation, complicating the way we view her subjects and the spaces in order to occupy. Her Portraiture utilizes the medium of story telling, to preserve histories, and make sociopolitical commentaries on current events. She is a featured artist in Art, AIDS, America, along side Keith Haring, Annie Leibovitz, Nan Goldin and Robert Mapplethorp, where she is the only representation of a female artist of color living with and born with HIV.

Dove Film Credits:
Kia Labeija (as Dove)
Taina Larot (as Bird Thief)

A Wild Combination Production
Director, Producer, Editor: Jacob Krupnick
AD + Line Producer: Victoria Rivera
Cinematographer: Soren Nielsen
Additional Operator: Luke Taylor
AC: Carlos Torres
Colorist: Stormcrow
Stylist & Wardrobe Design: E’KW=L
Hair: Daniel Obed Taveras
Title Design: Jen Mussari

Special Thanks: Josefina Santos, Beto Cañon, Robespierre Rodriguez, Juan Sebastian Rivera

M. Lamar is a composer who works across opera, metal, performance, video, sculpture and installation to craft sprawling narratives of radical becomings. Born May 29th 1984, Lamar holds a BFA from The San Francisco Art Institute and attended the Yale School of Art, sculpture program, before dropping out to pursue music. Lamar’s work has been presented internationally, most recently at National Sawdust New York, The Kitchen New York, MoMa PS1’s Greater New York, Merkin Hall, New York, Issue Project Room New York, The Walter and McBean Galleries, San Francisco; Human resources, Los Angeles;Wesleyan University; Participant Inc., New York; New Museum, New York; Södra Teatern, Stockholm; Warehouse9, Copenhagen; WWDIS Fest, Gothenburg and Stockholm; The International Theater Festival, Donzdorf, Germany; Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York; Performance Space 122, New York; and African American Art & Culture Complex, San Francisco; among others.

Mr. Lamar continues to study classical and bel canto technique with Ira Siff, and is a recipient of a 2016 Jerome Fund Grant for New Music (JFund), a 2016 NYFA Fellowship in Music and Sound and grants from Material Vodka 2016, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation (2015), Harpo Foundation (2014-2015), and Franklin Furnace Fund (2013–14).

Awilda Rodríguez Lora is a performance choreographer and cultural entrepreneur. She challenges in her work the concepts of woman, sexuality, and self-determination. These concepts are explored through the use of movement, sound, and video as well as through literal instantiations of an “economy of living” that either potentiates or subtracts from her body’s “value” in the contemporary art market. Born in Mexico, raised in Puerto Rico, and working in-between North and South America and the Caribbean, Rodríguez Lora’s performances traverse multiple geographic histories and realities. In this way, her work promotes progressive dialogues regarding hemispheric colonial legacies, and the unstable categories of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Rodríguez Lora has been an invited guest artist at the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD), New York University, the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Dance Center, and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), among others. Her solo work has been recently featured at DEFORMES Performance Biennale (Chile), Posta Sur Performance Encounter (Chile), Independence Dom (Dominican Republic) and the Miami International Performance Art Festival (USA).

A.L. Steiner utilizes constructions of photography, video, installation, collage, collaboration, performance, writing and curatorial work as seductive tropes channeled through the sensibility of a skeptical queer ecofeminist androgyne. Steiner is co-curator of Ridykeulous, co-founder of Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.), a collective member of Chicks on Speed, and collaborates with numerous writers, performers, designers, activists and artists. She is MFA Faculty in Visual Arts at Bard College, Yale University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Steiner is based in Los Angeles and New York, and is featured in permanent collections such as The Brooklyn Museum of Art, Marieluise Hessel Collection of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hammer Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. She is represented by Deborah Schamoni Gallerie in Munich and Koenig & Clinton in New York, and is the recipient of the 2015 Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award, The 2015-2016 Berlin Prize and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2017 Grants to Artists award.

Tina Takemoto is an artist and associate professor of visual studies at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her current research explores the hidden dimensions of same-sex intimacy and queer sexuality for Japanese Americans incarcerated by the US government during World War II. Takemoto has presented artwork and performances internationally and has received grants funded by Art Matters, the Fleishhacker Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Her film Looking for Jiro received Best Experimental Film Jury Award at the Austin LGBT International Film Festival. Her articles appear in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas, Afterimage, Millennium Film Journal, Art Journal, GLQ, Journal of Visual Culture, Performance Research, Radical Teacher, Theatre Survey, Women and Performance, and the anthologies Queering Asian American Art, Otherwise: Imagining Queer Feminist Art Histories and Thinking Through the Skin. Takemoto serves on the board of the Queer Cultural Center and is co-founder of Queer Conversations on Culture and the Arts.


The National Queer Arts Festival is an annual multidisciplinary Festival currently held May through July throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Each year we commission over twenty performances, visual arts exhibitions, and interdisciplinary showcases and in the process of producing work we support hundreds of artists, technical and production crews.


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