Consider the Tate Modern’s major UK survey of South African visual activist Zanele Muholi in 2021, or the group exhibition Shattered Glass at Jeffrey Deitch, where 40 international artists of colour presented art “whose subjects don’t ask, but rather demand to take up space”. Then there is the choice of Simone Leigh, as the first Black woman to represent the USA in the 59th Venice Biennale. The shift is not occurring overnight, but it is happening, and it’s wonderful.
As visibility and recognition of Black artists increases, so too does the representation of Black Queer artists. Consequently, the themes surrounding Black Queer identity have started to surface in artistic explorations in cultural institutions globally, finally affording some long-deserved representation and recognition.
Key voices that used art as to celebrate and shed light on the struggle of the Queer community include artists like Mickalene Thomas and Kehinde Wiley. Both have exhibited nationally and internationally, in both solo and group exhibitions, and are represented respectively by top commercial galleries Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels) and Sean Kelly (New York). Their longstanding engagement and influence is reflected on Limna, where they have the stable, positive Momentum that we might expect of already mature, blue-chip artist (as emerging artists just beginning to show at major institutions, internationally, and with more solo exhibitions have more space to grow into).
Whether emerging or established, the recent rise of Queer artists is clear. And nowhere is it clearer than in the stellar trajectories of three of the fastest rising breakthrough artists in Limna’s vast curatorial database:
B.1983, USA. Based in New York City
Represented by Chapter NY
Momentum on Limna +31%
Though she self-describes as an activist, artist, writer, filmmaker and storyteller, Tourmaline has in fact spent the last 20 years chronicling the lives and stories of her community in New York’s Christopher Street. She navigates historical erasure by foregrounding often marginalised stories, like those of Black trans lives. Often featured in her intricately researched works are archive-infused homages to Queer activist leaders like Marsha P. Johnson, Silvia Rivera or Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. As for most artists, being exhibited at the Venice Biennale represented a major turning point in her career. Tourmaline’s captivating offering at this year’s edition, the short film “Mary of Ill Fame” (2020-2021), combined with her receipt of the Baloise Art Prize at this year’s Art Basel officially confirmed her place on the global stage. There is little doubt that her global presence will flourish in years to come.
If you’d like to catch her work, the Venice Biennale runs until November 27, 2022. The group exhibition “Queer” is also currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and her film “Salacia” (2019) can be seen in collections room 214, Critical Fabulations, at MOMA in New York City.
Based in New York City and Los Angeles
Represented by Stars Gallery, Los Angeles
Momentum on Limna +29%
Clifford Prince King’s intimate photographs documenting Queer Black love and friendship are, quite frankly, mesmerising. Each shot is equally emotive and at ease. Nothing is posed or staged; instead there is a distinct realness: you’re not peeking through the window, you’re in the room. Over his short career, he has steadily built up a significant presence, having already exhibited at LACMA, Whitney Museum of American Art, Jeffrey Dietch Los Angeles and the Leslie Lowman Museum of Art, as well as in numerous prestigious publications. The rapid rise of his commercial and institutional presence is helping to expand his cultural and global recognition, so it’s no wonder he has such a high Limna Momentum score.
Around the world, you can catch his work at New York’s Museum of Sex until 11 October, 2022, in “F*ck Art: The Body & Its Absence”. He is also showing at Deichtorhallen Hamburg in “Currency: Photography Beyond Capture” until September 18, 2022, as part of Hamburg’s ongoing Triennial of Photography.
Based between London and Basel
Momentum on Limna +29%
Using text, sculpture, film and image-making, and installation, artist and curator Deborah Joyce Holman tackles the ‘refusal of representation and visibility’. Their own institutional and cultural recognition has rapidly grown thanks to numerous exhibitions, including at the Athens Biennale 2021, the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, Fondation d’entreprise Ricard in Paris, and the Societe Generale Swiss Emerging Artist Prize. Their challenge and questioning on the issue of visibility is certainly being seen and heard. Their nine-hour film Moment 2 uses non-performance and repetition as a means of resistance.
Moment 2 is on show at Zurich’s schwarzescafé, Luma Westbau until August 21, 2022 and Holman’s work also features in the combined solo and collaborative show with artist Tarek Lakhrissi at Istituto Svizzero, Palermo, opening on October 5 2022.
Aside from being an unambiguous recognition of great art, the increased Momentum, or trajectory, of these artists also suggests a marked cultural shift towards recognition of long-marginalised groups and the exploration of themes affecting them. For too long, these groups were not given a space or a platform to share their perspectives, their voices, or the beauty of their art. At last now they are being seen, heard, and lauded by a milieu that once overlooked them.