March 3rd, 2010

Swallow My Pride

This four month project was initiated and co-curated by myself, Dale Washkansky,Lizza Littlewort and William Martin. The group show featured work by Zanele Muholi, Andrew Putter, Pierre Fouche and Werner Ungerer, Ernst Van der Wal, Lizza Littlewort,Robert Hamblin, Linda Stupart, Anne Historical, Julie Donald, Kai Lossgott, Jody Paulsen, Igshaan Adams, Genevieve Louw and Johke Steenkamp, Tony East, William Martin, Lindsay Nel, and Andrea Brand.
SMP was exhibited at Blank Projects.

“Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed deejay
Because the music that they constantly play
The Smiths, Panic.

Like Morrissey’s outburst against the irrelevance of the mainstream disco scene to his lived experience of gay London in the ’80s, Swallow My Pride was a visceral response to the commercialisation of gay culture in Cape Town. The title subverts the slogan Gay Pride, once an urgent call to march and make visible the diversity and difference of local queer culture. Now Gay Pride commodifies gay experience into a market run lifestyle option in “post-gay” society, where pink money buys acceptance into the hetero-normative capitalist hierarchy.

This constructed stereotype is not only conservative, inhibited and achingly dull; crucially it dismisses the real-life diversity of the gay community, where issues of race, poverty, religion, discrimination and self-acceptance continue to be a daily struggle.

The commitment from the contributors to this show generated exciting work. A powerful interweaving emerged of the personal and the political in contemporary gay South Africa. As the commodified gay stereotype was subverted, so too the conservative aesthetic conventions which construct this stereotype were pulled apart and questioned in a witty and innovative critique of mainstream art. The wide range of work included photography, painting, drawing, video, animation, installation, intervention and anti-art strategies, and brought into focus the courage, suffering, humour, intelligence and enormous variety of local queer culture.” (Lizza Littlewort)

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