Interview: Pelican Bomb
Queer Traces: Transnational Queer Underground’s #TheGalleryProject
Ben Miller talks with Verena Spilker about a Berlin-based project that raises questions about how to create more inclusive archives and how communities can form through art.
When queer people express themselves, writes José Esteban Muñoz in Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, “there is often a gatekeeper [to mainstream culture]…who will labor to invalidate the historical fact of queer lives—past, present, and future.” Traditional forms of archival evidence, like formally documented histories, are often absent from or irrelevant to queer lives; instead, he suggests, we must turn to “traces” of queer life present in the margins.
How then can these individual traces be woven into networks that bind queers together, that help us survive? Transnational Queer Underground (TQU), a Berlin-based project founded in 2009 by queer activist Verena Spilker, came from her research into the Riot Grrrl and Queercore movements. Last spring, Spilker put out a call for submissions to a new online archive called #TheGalleryProject, a sub-project of TQU that serves as an un-curated space for queer people to display work and build an artistic and political community. After receiving and posting the work of 46 artists from around the world, Spilker mounted an offline exhibit from March 10 – 24, the first of several across Europe, as part of Ladyfest in Tallinn, Estonia. Each stop of the exhibition will be accompanied by workshops where visitors create work in conversation with the pieces shown. #TheGalleryProject offers an alternative to more institutionalized efforts to highlight queer artists by challenging the ways archives and museums selectively place value on artistic works.
About Pelican Bomb
Why Pelican Bomb? Because we’re committed to creating new ways to understand, relate to, and engage with contemporary art. Collaboration, generosity, and risk-taking are essential parts of our way of working, and we see value in sharing and supporting voices that are often overlooked. These values are present in everything we do: our programs, our staff, and our partners.
We believe contemporary art can inform the world and the ways we look at it. And Pelican Bomb isn’t just online. Whether established or emerging, our contributors and curators have always been on the ground—in galleries, at lectures, in artists’ studios—to bring informed and thoughtful perspectives on New Orleans now.