In the face of the oppression the Trumpians of the world are trying to force upon the LGBTQ community, an important exhibition is opening on September 27 at the New Museum in New York City. “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon,” curated by Johanna Burton, will be “the largest show to date at a major museum to tackle gender fluidity.”
The term trigger is a current fave in teen and vlogger argot, social media being the most level playing field right now for establishing an individual’s preferred identity.
The show features “40 intergenerational artists,” about half non-white, who mostly identify as queer. However, participating artist Wu Tsang, filmmaker, rejects “the gender spectrum.”
“The art itself doesn’t have to be tethered to the biography of the artist,” Ms. Burton said.
In comparing the work contained in “Trigger” to AIDS activist art, Ms. Burton states the New Museum exhibition “won’t look like a political show from the ’80s. Beauty and pleasure are really primary for these artists and are seen as a mode of resistance.”
Artists in “Trigger” include performance artist Justin Vivian Bond who will from time to time physically step into her New Museum installation called “My Model | MySelf: I’ll Stand by You,” wearing a vintage pink Frank Masandrea dress and putting a “queer face” on glamour created by gay people.
“Me as Muse” by Mickalene Thomas—who has a solo show scheduled to open January 25, 2018 at the highly respected Pomona College Museum of Art—is comprised of a 12-monitor video grid displaying and focusing on images of the naked artist’s body while lying on a couch.
Burton verifies that the overall “Trigger” content will be loaded and unnerving. For instance the experience Candice Lin and Patrick Staff’s “Hormonal Fog” will provide. Their piece employs a smoke machine installed in the museum lobby to emit “testosterone-lowering, plant-based tinctures” for entering visitors.
Public programming for “Trigger” starts September 28, kicked off with a one-night-only performance by “legendary artist and punk icon” Vaginal Davis bringing her “drag terrorism” to the States.
New Museum and Ms. Burton should be commended for planning and embracing this likely controversial exhibition, not only for its substance, but for taking a chance on artists outside the usually exclusive world of art as “two-thirds of the artists in ‘Trigger’ have no gallery representation at all.”
(Featured photo composite, details from Nayland Blake’s Crossing Object: inside Gnomen and Justin Vivian Bond’s My Model | My Self: I’ll Stand By You)