Ethno-Surrealist Theories

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Ethno-Surrealist Theories

culture. From an Interventionist perspective, contagion can be about self-granted access or barrier breaking. Contagion also suggests the opposite of containment and I like to think of culture as not needing to be contained but needing to be shared. Words like infection and contagion are often used to make us afraid too, which I like to eschew by using them in refreshed ways.

I like the elasticity between contagion and containment. I agree with you. And yet, the anti-trans protests during NYC's Dyke March unfortunately prove that not all lesbian identifying beings are as conscious and progressive as most.
Many people who are “progressive” or have liberal politics aren’t yet up on the terms and social skills needed to be inclusive, mistakes are made, people get upset, it’s sad, and it tears us apart and makes us weaker as a whole. My own social rule is to wait for people to self-identify and abide by what they indicate.

Before I started this work, I was in a weird situation with queer-identified students who had little use for the word “lesbian.” It made them laugh to hear it used, even when I self-identified as lesbian. It really bothered me because they were laughing at me; here I’m sharing my heritage, my 15-year marital status, and they are laughing. They insisted on the use of “Queer” and “LGBT” to “correct” my language. When I told a gay man about my project he asked if there were any gay men in it, which simply hadn’t occurred to me. I had to think these experiences and expectations through and clear my conscience about serving my “L” slice of the LGBTQ pie.

It’s a little tricky when selecting artists from history, because of terminology shifts. Over time there have been many female-bodied people “living as men” usually for either love or employment, or both. If for love, we might have called that “lesbian,” today we could call that “trans.” I have Claude Cahun in this series. Claude’s self-portraiture crosses back and forth across gender lines, “trans-scending” gender, if you will. It’s possible Claude would self-identify as trans. In my next series I’d like to include D’Lo. Like Cahun, D’Lo’s work is relevant to both lesbian and trans folks. Giles would include them as Lesbeings. They might select her alternate term "Lesbro", which describes “brotherly hominids who are supportive of Lesbeings and Lesbeing culture.”

Oh, I love Claude Cahun self portraiture. They're amazing. Recently, I saw D'Lo's show at Dixon and loved it. What did you think of it? So many of his immigrant experiences mirrored my own.
It was great! D’Lo’s such a talented and charming performer and Dixon was a great venue for that work. I see a continuum from Peggy Shaw, to Susana Cook, to D’Lo.

When D'Lo talks about Sri Lanka, does that affect Giles’ migration pattern theories?
D’Lo’s migratory patterns are of interest to Prof. Giles and we need to collect more data. Since Giles’ migration studies consider political climate, we look closely at adulthood migrations in relationship to birthplace data. 

What's next for B. Giles? What can your audience anticipate about the work from where it is now?
Viewers can expect to see more and more petri dish portraits. The Pop-Up show features my first color series. It’s exciting to have a color process and I’d like to produce an exhibit of a lot more of them. I found a 4-foot light table that I would love to see full of them. I’m interested in continuing the migration survey too and want to work out more methods for mapping that data. I’m expanding a collection of “artifacts” and “field notes” of the ancient Lesbeing civilization and hope to craft a scale model of the ancient submerged spiral city. My dream is to use all of these elements to create a comprehensive Natural Herstory of Lesbeings exhibition.

BEFORE WE WERE QUEER is on view at The Leslie Lohman Museum until August 31, 2012.
Lead photo:
Jackie Rudin. 



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,