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Artists convey their perspectives on gender and sexuality in new exhibition at TENT
Hannah James. Heads, 2016.

ROTTERDAM.- TENT opened the group exhibition Among other things, I’ve taken up smoking, in which artists convey their perspectives on gender and sexuality. Recently, there has been a proliferation of categories for defining one’s sexual and gender identity. For example, in addition to the standard ‘male’ or ‘female,’ Facebook currently offers its users 71 gender identification options. Does this range of labels contribute to the freedom of expressing one's identity? And does everyone want to identify themselves with a label anyway? This group exhibition engages with the LGBT+ community’s continuing requisite for security and recognition in society and celebrates the optimistic and quirky imagination of this group for a world yet to unfold.

The LGBT+ community’s spirited history of activism and struggle for justice and recognition builds on feminism and civil rights movements. The radical survival strategies of the 1980s and ’90s have given way to playful self-representation and lifestyles that do not conform to prevailing standards. New technologies and digital platforms are playing an important role within this trajectory, with members of LGBT+ groups often engaging via online platforms such as YouTube and Instagram. At the same time, queer representations – once expressions of resistance or intended to claim space and visibility – are increasingly appropriated by mainstream culture and marketing strategies.

The artists in this exhibition deliberate on LGBT+ bodies and communities within society, online, and in popular culture. They are interested in embodying difference, questioning oppressive gender roles, and reclaiming queer words and images as a tool for change. As such, the personal and political are often connected. For example, together with members of Rotterdam’s LGBT+ community, Rory Pilgrim develops a new work addressing the need for a recognisable meeting point to be used in times of need and celebration. All the Cunning Stunts present a monumental wall work in a playful low-tech Photoshop style, that questions idealised and archetypical representations of queer bodies and relationships, taking queer stock-imagery as its starting point. Olle Lundin makes a new interactive work researching the queer community's use of hashtags in online environments. Floriane Misslin’s polyptych uncovers strategies and values behind gender-free identities in contemporary fashion. Video installations by Hannah James and Julius Thissen both critique the oppressive gender constructs around femininity and masculinity. Geo Wyeth presents Juice CrosxxxSing, a performance and installation that develops around the figure of the crossing guard. Alberto García del Castillo and Steev Lemercier sing and read from Merman, a queer travelogue written by Alberto García del Castillo. Angelica Falkeling invites the audience into a TV set, permeated with lo-fi queer kitsch, whose recordings assure upbeat failure.

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