Dec 9, 2010

What is Queer Diaspora ?

Geography, and the relationship between space, community, and art, has been redefined through the internet and mobile technologies. Communities no longer have to occupy one common physical space, and people do not need to stand in front of art objects to experience them. In fact, art itself can exist outside of object-hood completely.

Technological advances have shifted the way people function; the way they interact, think, communicate, form communities, experience art, access information, and process the world. These shifts in behavior have a special relationship to queer artists and how they produce works of art. Traditionally, queer people who wanted to be “out” and produce meaningful work migrated to urban hubs. This migration created communities, both socially and politically active queer communities and intellectual creative communities. Today however, queer artists are able to access both queer and creative communities, find and view one another’s works, and showcase their own creative production without moving to urban centers. Queer artists are moving out of urban queer ghettos and living in a variety of nonurban environments, thus creating a range of possibilities for the queer creative life.

Issues of community and place are especially important for the producers and publics of queer art.  Historically, common coming-of-age narratives for young queer people in rural or suburban settings follow a certain pattern. Rural queer youth discover a disconnect between their community’s normative expectations for adult behavior and their personal desires. They set out to relinquish those normative expectations by connecting to peer groups who share their desires, and reinvent themselves according to new models in new places. Physical, geographic displacement from rural obscurity into urban enlightenment is the traditional narrative in the creation of the queer artist/intellectual.

However, simple observation of our current social and cultural conditions shows that this is no longer a hard truth. Economic realities such as high rents, high cost of living, and scant affordable studio space have meant that artists are seeking out locations on the periphery of urban centers, or well beyond their direct spheres of influence, to make their work.  Furthermore, shifts in our common social reality such as greater exposure of queer issues in the media, legal protections, and technological advances that encourage community building have meant that LGBTTQIA artists have been able to maintain open and artistically productive lives outside of urban queer ghettos.

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