Coming After is a response to the recent renewal of interest in the period from the mid-1980s to early 1990s that was decisive for North American cultural politics. This time period witnessed the Culture Wars, the birth of “queer” as an identity and theory, and the rise of a direct-action AIDS activist movement — epitomized by ACT UP — fighting a new plague that was devastating communities of artists, queers and people of colour. While these years were highly traumatic, they also represented a galvanizing, dynamic moment for queer citizenship — one that is arguably haunting our present and our future. This exhibition does not focus on those artists who were, as artist Christian Holstad succinctly put it, “burying their dead” at that time, but instead those who grew up in the shadow of the crisis, whether by fate or by choice. Their work evidences a sense of having come after or missed out on something. The potential represented by both very recent and more faraway radical (queer) historical moments is both an open wound and a fount of inspiration. What was lost along the way from then to now?
Designed by Sameer Farooq of New Ink, the Coming After publication includes a curatorial essay by Jon Davies accompanied by original illustrations by Logan MacDonald. The essay threads throughout the book, interrupted by two texts: the transcript of a 2009 keynote lecture by artist Sharon Hayes, and a new short essay by artist Zoe Leonard. The publication concludes with special artist projects by Ulrike Müller and Jimmy Robert, and incorporates the work of the fifteen artists or artist duos who were included in the exhibition: Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz, Aleesa Cohene, Glen Fogel, Onya Hogan-Finlay, Christian Holstad, Danny Jauregui, Adam Garnet Jones, Jean-Paul Kelly, Tim Leyendekker, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, James Richards, Emily Roysdon, Dean Sameshima, Jonathan VanDyke, and Susanne M. Winterling
About the author
Jon Davies is a writer and curator based in Toronto. His writing has appeared in C Magazine, Canadian Art, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Animation Journal, Cinema Scope, Xtra! and many other publications. He has also contributed book chapters on filmmaker Todd Haynes and artists Candice Breitz, Luis Jacob, Ryan Trecartin, and Daniel Barrow. He has curated numerous screenings for the artists` film and video exhibitor Pleasure Dome, and for various venues in Toronto from Gallery TPW and Vtape to the Images Festival and Inside Out, as well as internationally. He most recently curated the traveling retrospective `People Like Us: The Gossip of Colin Campbell` for the Oakville Galleries, Ontario. He is currently Assistant Curator of Public Programs at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.