The Critical Eye
by, Phil Tarley

June hosts celebrations and exhibitions all over the world and is internationally designated as Gay Pride month. The month commemorates the opening salvo of the gay revolution when on June 28, 1969, the fighting that broke out between police and drag queens in New York City’s Stonewall bar, ignited a massive civil rights movement. This year, the Queer Biennial Collective is staging the third iteration of its international survey of queer art and culture called Queer Biennial 2018, titled “What if Utopia.” Their series of exhibitions ask the invited artists/writers/performers to explore personal sensibilities of an ideal, otherworldly landscape and examine ideas of a Queer Utopia. This theme is proposed in broad terms, leaving participants to explore it in the abstract: the carnal, the cerebral, the fantastical, and the optical.

The Biennial’s opening reception will take place on Friday, June 1st and will be hosted by filmmaker, artist, and author John Waters, best known for his legendary films including Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, and Serial Mom.

This series of exhibitions will show works by over 100 artists hailing from over 20 countries and at various stages in their careers, ranging from emerging to established artists. Included are works by icons; Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, and Tom of Finland. Film screenings will present the movies and videos of Brontez Purnell and Wakefield Poole, among others. The Biennial will also host performances by a diverse array of artists that include Saturn Rising, Bebe Huxley, M. Tennyson, and Sailorfag. In addition to visual and performative art, a literary event will take place on June 24th at the Tom of Finland Foundation.

The Queer Biennial’s founder and director is Ruben Esparza. The other curators working with him are Nicholas Miloš Mestas, Stuart Sandford, Mark Tennyson, Steven Reigns, Ilona Berger, Michael Holt, Yelena Moskovich and Carlos Morales Rábago.

The What if Utopia, Queer Biennial 2018 runs from June 1 through June 30, 2018, and is exhibiting at three venues; NAVEL, Tom of Finland Foundation and Please Do Not Enter. The opening night reception at Naval is free and begins at 8 PM. The pre-event cocktail hour, hosted by John Waters at 6:30 PM, costs $75 and includes a signed copy of Water’s new book, Make Trouble. Tickets are available through Eventbrite and the biennial’s website.

A full list of exhibiting artists, events, and happenings can be viewed at queerbiennial.org

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