Ethno-Surrealist Theories

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Ethno-Surrealist Theories

“who is this character?” When I had to name her, I think my dad intervened. He was a beguiler and I think he sent me a message because one day “B. Giles,” popped in my head in his voice. She became my communication device for this surreal ethnography.

What initially drew you to ethnographic surrealism?
I fell into it. But, I don’t think I would have without three significant works in the background of my imagination. I will add agent Scully’s affect to that list. But, the first was Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña’s performance of Undiscovered Amerindians (1992), the next was Shelly Mars’ Homo Bonobo Project with Dr. Ghislaine Pussait (2009), and third, although not surreal ethnography, the assertive style of Peggy Shaw, particularly in Menopausal Gentleman (1996) and MUST: The Inside Story (2010).

Conroy's scientific data: portraits of lesbian artists as culture artifacts. Photography by Kate Conroy.

How does Giles reconcile her scientific research with the meandering methods of creativity?
As a scientist Prof. Giles knows that all science is the study of art. She knows that you can only ascertain a culture through the study of its art and artists.

Sifting through the chronology of lesbian artists is the foundation for Giles's research. How have you decided which artists to include? Is Giles exclusively focused on the DNA narratives she can extract from the artists?
At this point the selections have been exhibition driven. The main goal of my first series was to introduce an international group of grad students at NYU to my community of NYC-based Lesbian artists. I wanted to pique curiosity about artists who might have shows coming up, or books coming out, or exhibitions opening during the time these students would be studying in New York.

The criteria for Pop-Up Museum exhibit is “Before We Were Queer,” so I researched through word-of-mouth and The Lesbian Herstory Archives to find a mix of well-known and lesser-known artists across a few centuries.

And yes, she is focused on the DNA narratives of contemporary artists.

And the DNA, what

Comments [6]

Grace Moon's picture

I wish I had seen Kate's

I wish I had seen Kate's performance at Dixon!

deff headed to Lohman before this closes.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

patricia's picture

me too!

I also missed it, but saw a video recording of the performance. We should go next time!

Kate Conroy's picture

Thank you!

Thanks so much for your interest and support!  As soon as I have another performance date I'll let you know.  

-- Kate Conroy,

Marcie Bianco's picture

P, does the installation

P, how does the installation follow or coincide with the Dixon Place performance? Can't wait to head to Lohman for all things queer!

...Happy to hear she's claiming the "L slice" -- more of that is needed!

patricia's picture

Hi Marcie!

This interview was really only timed with Conroy's piece (Lesbian Culture Series, 2012) at the Queer Pop-Up Show, currently STILL up at L Lohman.

So, Conroy's conceptual work is data-driven (historical portraits in petri dishes, diagrams, maps, ethno surrealistic interpretations of geographic migrations), performative (Giles' explanation of the "data") and interactive (audience participation: Giles answering the audience's questions—in character!).

That's the current spectrum of the work at this stage. At the Pop-Up show, viewers can analyze the petri dishes up close with a magnifying glass, just like B. Giles probably does.

I thought it was one of the strongest pieces in the show.

Kate Conroy's picture

so sharp!

Patricia, thanks for "getting" my work and explaining it so easily.  I'm learning from you.


-- Kate Conroy,