Post Biennial Feelings

Thirza At Whitney Biennial

I am back from the Whitney Biennial 2019! I went down for the parties/openings. I don’t have work showing in it until Sept 20 and 21st when I am screening two videos (2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 and Just Dandy) but I wanted to meet some artists there and see what people were showing. And yeah of course the chance to see the fancy stuff! It was overall a positive experience for me, I met new people, felt respected by the people who worked for the museum and appreciated by my cohort of artists even tho they didn’t get to see my videos yet. I think some of them looked me up though, so that’s nice. I felt like it was mostly a positive space as a 2 Spirit Indigiqueer person to be in, although I have something else that conflicts with that which I will mention later here.

New York itself was kind of a new experience this time, even though it was the third time I’ve been there. I found the people I met really friendly and open and I hope to return more often. Some people offered me spare rooms to stay in next time, which was sweet of them. I might do a workshop with another group of artists down there. I went to the Cubbyhole which I have heard about for a long time. And omg of course we went to Stonewall Inn for a drink, which was small but being such a historically significant part of a queer collective past made it feel really important and almost emotional to be in. Above is a picture of my friend Elwood, my Mom Ruth Cuthand, and I in front of the bar in the rain. Mom made a weird face cause it was rainy and she didn’t know what camera to look at ha ha.

I felt like most of my time there was trying to get some place or another. But maybe next time I’ll stay closer to Manhattan and not all the way in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Riding the ferry was sweet tho.

OKAY so like I had said I felt mostly safe as an Indigiqueer artist at the Whitney, and I think a couple other Indigiqueer/2S friends I’d gone with both nights felt that way too. But I put a bunch of other mostly Indigiqueer/2S/Queer/Trans artists who are friends on the guest list, and when they came they like really went looking fucking amazing and fierce and they were great. But the security at the Whitney followed them around the whole time they were there and made them feel uncomfortable. And in Canada, well Canada sucks but in places like the National Gallery and so on they would be a lot more respected by the security instead of being treated like a threat. They were gifting blankets to myself and the other Indigenous artists in the exhibition which was so sweet, but the blankets sort of threatened security, and some medicines they put down for the late great James Luna got confiscated. So sort of have some mixed feelings about that. I mean there is so much to be unpacked there but I really just got home yesterday and haven’t sorted it all out in my head yet.

I celebrated last night by going to Lizzo here in Toronto with some of them and that was super fun. I’m glad I got to see her perform in a smaller venue because I think it’s gonna be the bigger places from now on for her.

I did one media interview while I was in New York, which was nice. I know I am supposed to be capitalizing on this opportunity, but not sure it’s gonna totally work out that way for me, for various reasons. I’m just going to continue trying to do the work I do, which I feel is important. There’s a core part of me that is still basically making videos for a teenage queerdo that I was living in Saskatchewan in the early 90’s not seeing myself anywhere. I know someday I’m gonna find out someone kept hanging on because they saw some outlines of who they were and who they could be in my work. Some isolated Indigiqueer/2S youth somewhere in the prairies wanting some sign that they aren’t a freak. Or that maybe if they are a freak, that it’s a good thing. I don’t think that’s such a weird reason to make art.

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