Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

UCLA Queer Studies Conference 2012

This year's Queer Studies Conference at UCLA was titled Queer of Color Genealogies and involved a wide gamut of fascinating papers and keynotes. I missed most of the beginning of the conference, but I was able to catch the last panel. "Transnational Aesthetics/Erotics", as well as the closing keynote.

One of the latter panelists was Chitra Ganesh, a Brooklyn based visual artist specializing in drawing, installation, and text. She presented to the audience a brief overview of some of her recent works and her inspirational and thematic motivations for them.

Some of my favorite of Ganesh's works that she chose to talk about yesterday were those of her digital collages, such as the one shown here, titled Sugar and Milk. I was really intrigued by the artist's reclamation of mythology and folklore to construct her own message; in the case of the above work, she stitches scenes from some Amar Chitra Katha comic books with her own pen and ink drawings in order to subvert the normative prescriptions in the comics themselves. In particular, she discusses, she is interested in the interplay between female sexuality and violence, and in the transcendence of the body as a limiting form - by configuring different types of bodies, she narrates different types of femininities.

Another thing I found interesting about Ganesh's presentation was her commentary on how her work was received differently depending on the context of her exhibition. She observes that American audiences react much more strongly to her use of brown bodies - they commonly read her works as sexually and racially "charged". In contrast, Asian audiences tend to comment more on the artistic qualities of her works, rather than reducing them to a set of political tropes.

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