Art = Life: Homotopia 2015 line-up revealed

Best of the city’s LGBT art and culture to be showcased throughout November

 A packed programme of art and culture reflecting the LGBT experience will form the basis of Liverpool’s Homotopia festival this year. The 2015 festival, which starts on Friday 30 October and runs through to World AIDS Day on 1 December, aims to showcase what it is to be LGBT in today’s society via art, music, performance, photography, comedy and literature. The theme of this year’s festival is ART = LIFE, and the events planned will examine how those who face discrimination use art as a form of self-expression. Festival Director Gary Everett said: “If silence equals death as it did at the start of the AIDS crisis then we believe art equals life. Art is a joyous expression of all that makes us human and for lesbians, gays and Trans people who continue to be marginalised, criminalised and persecuted around the world, art is often their only means of self-expression.” Nathi Dlamini by Zanele Muholi Many of Liverpool’s cultural institutions will be hosting Homotopia events and collaborating with artists. One such collaboration is Transformation: One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe at Walker Art Gallery, which celebrates the personal historic dress collection of Peter Farrer, and will be the first exhibition of its kind in a British museum. Although it has already opened at Open Eye Gallery, a trailblazing photography exhibition by Zanele Muholi will also form part of this year’s Homotopia. VUKANI/RISE explores gender, race and sexuality in relation to South African society, and the images featured were nominated for the Deutsche Borse prize. The full line-up for this year’s festival is available on the Homotopia website. 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Picture via Tom Selmon.

A packed programme of art and culture reflecting the LGBT experience will form the basis of Liverpool’s Homotopia festival this year.

The 2015 festival, which starts on Friday 30 October and runs through to World AIDS Day on 1 December, aims to showcase what it is to be LGBT in today’s society via art, music, performance, photography, comedy and literature.

The theme of this year’s festival is ART = LIFE, and the events planned will examine how those who face discrimination use art as a form of self-expression.

Festival Director Gary Everett said: “If silence equals death as it did at the start of the AIDS crisis then we believe art equals life. Art is a joyous expression of all that makes us human and for lesbians, gays and Trans people who continue to be marginalised, criminalised and persecuted around the world, art is often their only means of self-expression.”

Many of Liverpool’s cultural institutions will be hosting Homotopia events and collaborating with artists.

One such collaboration is Transformation: One Man’s Cross-Dressing Wardrobe at Walker Art Gallery, which celebrates the personal historic dress collection of Peter Farrer, and will be the first exhibition of its kind in a British museum.

Although it has already opened at Open Eye Gallery, a trailblazing photography exhibition by Zanele Muholi will also form part of this year’s Homotopia. VUKANI/RISE explores gender, race and sexuality in relation to South African society, and the images featured were nominated for the Deutsche Borse prize.

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Homotopia Festival kicks off on Friday 30th October, and runs throughout November, closing on Tuesday 1st December.

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WHAT IS AN ALIEN SEX CLUB?

Turn-My-Oyster-Up-TB

We talk to artist John Walter about his new work Alien Sex Club

With his daring new immersive installation Alien Sex Club on in London until 14th August, and going to the Homotopia festival in Liverpool on 30th October, boundary-pushing ‘maximal’ artist John Walter tells us more about this unique work – addressing gay cruising and HIV today with surreal humour.

I am working on a Phd which heavily informed Alien Sex Club. It explores how the cruise maze is a risk prone spatial form because it has multiple pathways as opposed to the labyrinth which has a single path. Cruise mazes are real structures within spaces of sex such as sex clubs and gay saunas; they are not mazes like the one at Hampton Court, rather real or temporary wall formations that encourage circulation of space through walking to encourage physical proximity and multiple sexual encounters. They simulate the park, the city street, the cottage and the gym as spaces that are repurposed for sex and privatise that experience.

The cruise maze is also a metaphor within the Western gay male sexual imagination that has fed into the way cruising websites, such as Squirt, and online apps, such as Grindr, are structured. I wanted to make a show that explored the logic of the sex club, particularly the spatial layout and the behaviours associated with the space. I also made a video while at the Skowhegan residency in the USA called In the HIV Garden. It was set in the forest and began to address the interests that have grown to become Alien Sex Club. That video also suggested new technological and conceptual possibilities and challenges that I have been working on over the past 3 years to bring Alien Sex Club to fruition.

Attendees can expect to be surprised. Seeing all the parts together, overlapping and joined and simultaneous is a transformative experience. The show is an immersive world of colour, image, pattern, sound and taste; it is an overstimulating parallel universe; a maze that can be wandered again and again to find more experiences, more meanings and more relationships between the parts. It is an epic installation in terms of its size and its meaning. I hope that afterwards they feel something has shifted for them; that they have been put beyond their comfort zone but supported along the way. The show is about lots of things not just cruising and HIV. It’s about art and media and formal things too. You can enter the show on a number of levels and go on a number of journeys. It’s not didactic.

People think that HIV is no longer a Western problem. We don’t talk about it as much as we did in the ’80s and ’90s and we don’t have the same public health messages being broadcast to the entire population. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has made HIV a treatable, though not curable, condition and it has also made HIV an invisible and private condition. HIV rates among gay men seem to be rising – or at least diagnoses are rising – and this is due to a number of factors including perception of risk and shifting sexual practices, such as chemsex.

Being part of the Homotopia festival is very exciting for me. There’s nothing quite like it. It’s a unique platform for presenting work and helping stimulate discussions about queer subjects. Also, working in Liverpool is hugely stimulating for me since the city and its artistic scene are so rich, energetic and generous.

READ THE COMPLETE ARTICLE BY EMILY CARLTONOut_There_logo

 

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