5 Queer artists who are revolutionising Contemporary Art
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Their art challenges our current notions of identity, paving the way for a more conscious future, revealing a multifaceted reality that we have always seen from a one-sided point of view.

With talent and passion, these artists interpret Trans life through different ways and worlds.

Working with different artistic languages, including photography, performance, video, sculpture or painting, these artists share their stories and experiences, their traumas, their past and hopes for the future, revealing to the cultural consciousness and to the world what it really means to be Queer.

Their art challenges our current notions of identity, paving the way for a more conscious future, revealing a multifaceted reality that we have always seen from a one-sided point of view.

The following five artists are helping to radically change the landscape of contemporary art.

Fortunately for us.

Cassils – Performer

 

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A transgender artist and body builder, Cassils makes his body the material and absolute protagonist of his performace art.

Her work covers the history of violence, struggle, and the living representation of survival as LGBTQIA+.

For Cassils, performance is a form of social sculpture.

Starting from the idea that bodies are formed in relation to the forces of power and social expectations, his performances investigate the context in which the present moves, expressing themselves in real physical efforts, where the human material is stressed and strained to express itself.

 

Zanele Muholi – Photographer

 

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Artist, photographer but above all African LGBTQIA+ rights activist, Zanele Muholi denounces racial violence and discrimination against people belonging to gender minorities in South Africa.

Each of her shots challenges the prevailing stereotypes in African society, but does so with an elegance that makes each photograph a gentle hypnosis.

Zanele delicately depicts the LGBTQIA+ community‘s moments of love and intimacy, with bitter references to the traumatic events that deeply mark their lives.

His work gives voice to those who have none, revealing a sad condition ignored by all.

Salman Toor – Painter and Sculptor

 

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Salman Toor is a Pakistani-born figurative artist living in NY.

His works depict intimate, everyday moments of young Queer people embedded in contemporary cosmopolitan culture.

His paintings oscillate between the carefree to the profoundly sad, from the seductive to the poignant, from the inviting to the disturbing – all emotional conditions that the LGBTQIA+ community alternates between on a daily basis.

Salman creates disarming depictions of familiar domestic environments, in which marginalised characters move in safety and comfort; in others, he creates hostile spaces, instilling a sense of danger and apprehension.

His art examines and exposes the vulnerability and gap between public and private life of gender minorities, revealing a profoundly relational existence when reunited; while lost when forced to relate in the social context.

Julie Mehretu – Painter

 

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“I don’t think of architectural language as a metaphor about space, but about spaces of power, about ideas of power”.

Mehretu is an established and internationally recognised contemporary artist.

As a lesbian, she has spoken out in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, becoming a symbol of emancipation and courage.

Her canvases reinterpret abstract art for the new generation: the lines are not distributed statically, but rather use space to move freely.

Julie Mehretu‘s painting alludes to a new paradigm of movement, to externalise a perspective-retrospective of the outside world, observing it in all its chaotic movement, fragmentation and ruin.

Laura Aguilar – Photographer

 

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“In my shots there are the realities that society has always tried to hide”

Laura Aguilar was a Latin American photographer and activist, who first immortalised lesbian, queer, trans and overweight women: social groups usually invisible in the works of official culture.

Aguilar’s work is intimate and touching: her shots of opulent bodies, naked and contextualised in naturalistic settings, reflect reality without embellishment, imperfect and authentic, just as it is.

She has always wanted to convey a latent rejection of the canons of beauty of the modern era, representing the human experience in a compassionate way, through the visual stories of people who remain on the margins: victims of body shaming, racial or social discrimination.

The landscape of art has been slow to discover and address the decades-long interdisciplinary field of transgender studies. Compared to other cultural expressions such as literature, film or theatre, the visual arts have only ever ‘touched upon’ the topic of gender minorities.

For example The Art Journal, considered one of the most authoritative magazines in the art world. Exhibitions, relevant events, articles and news: it’s all in the pages of this semi-annual, founded in 1941.

It gives one pause for thought that from the year of its foundation until March 2021 – the term ‘transgender’ has appeared in only thirty six articles or reviews, with three instances of ‘non-binary’ and five of ‘transsexual’; while ‘queer’ appears 135 times.

The reluctance of art history to deal with Queer stories and topics is not due to a lack of artists: contemporary artists have made work that shapes the politics and emotions of the transgender, non-binary and intersex experience in exciting ways.

They are at the forefront of trans visibility and their work has most often been discussed in other fields such as performance studies.

WORDS: Manuela Palma

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