The weather in April might not hold up to what March has promised but it provides the perfect opportunity to explore some indoor culture, this weekend in the form of the second Fringe! Film Fest!
A gay film and arts event that takes place across various venues in East London, the Fringe! Film Fest offers a host of films, performance pieces, art exhibitions, interactive happenings and the odd party. i-D listened in to a conversation between Fringe! curator Konstantinos Menelaou and participating artist, activist and ACT UP pioneer Vincent William Gagliostro about ‘The After Louie installation project’, an exhibition documenting Gagliostro’s personal romantic longing, and what he believes is a wider communal longing for a pre-AIDS/ Sex in the City New York in all its social, artistic and sexual glory.
The video part of the installation project, along with Gagliostro’s piece ‘Five Movements on the Subject of Homosexuality and Evidence of its Place in Society’ will be shown at Bethnal Green Town Hall Hotel on Sunday 15th April.
KM: Sex is the driving force and the destructive force of both the installation and the video/films…
VWG: In the early 70s gay men began to restructure existing relationships, concepts of beauty and the use of sex as a revolutionary tool. It was a first. We were finally free and we were free all over the place in every nook and cranny we could find. WE HAD SEX. Until we had to STOP having sex. Or at least we were told by some, even our leaders like Larry Kramer. It was very unpopular. And soon sex started to destroy what it had built and it wasn’t about the health crisis or the infections. Sex destroyed the social fabric of gay life. Without sex it began to seem there was no gay life. This was almost more threatening than the mysterious virus. So many were willing to keep having sex, maybe because we were afraid to be alone.
K.K: All images are markers of time, of loss and of looking for a future…
VWG: One group of photos in the installation is called ‘Memorable Dates’ – random dates of note – Stonewall for example, which was a memorial I attended. There are documents, reprints of things, like the Larry Kramer article that ran in the New York Native. There are eulogies from political funerals, old demonstration flyers. We need to remember it all, I remember it all, not with nostalgia, but with relief that this New York existed, actually happened. These were moments and in these moments there was hope, freedom and expression inside those chilling hideous moments of our friends dying.
KM: Is there a Queer Future?
VWG: One must ask it. I think today kids are looking for some kind of protection, and the bad news is nothing will protect, certainly not marriage. I mean, one more gay marriage portrait of a privileged white male couple in the New York Times, really, that’s the protection we are offering kids? What about the kid who will kill himself because of bullying or haters? Are we really convinced that same-sex, (I don’t even think it’s called that any more, they took the “sex” part out) is going to protect us? It’s not only an obvious question to ask but an honest and maybe hurtful one. To tell you the truth the question scares the hell out of me.
KM: What about pre-AIDS New York gay life and gay life today? How do they compare?
VWG: There were no mobile phones then. And there was still the nourishment of real off-line experience and sex and art and strangers and pre-abocrombie abs. Today everything is already discovered, developed, trained, tracked, exploited, and done over. Today we have a gay community ready to exclude all those who are not looking to live traditional lives. Then it was about inclusion. Today is about exclusion, apartness. Then we weren’t ashamed of anything or of who we were and what we desired. Today we are ashamed of that very past.
KM: What about your work at The White Cubicle Gallery?
VWG: It’s about unbridled art and sex and the social side – a good time and humour. There is more to the gallery than meets the eye. It provokes and isn’t that what art should do anyway.
The exhibition is now open at The White Cubicle Gallery in the George & Dragon on Hackney Road, running until April 26th.
Text: Alexander Karotsch & Konstantinos Menelaou