Review: Artists Point the Way Toward a New Queer Aesthetic (NSFW) / Hyperallergic

Elijah Burgher, “Enclosure for undisclosed ritual action” (2012), acrylic on canvas drop cloths (click to enlarge) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

I’d cruise slick Chicago boy bodies at the infamous bathhouse Steamworks if I were a cisboy, or at least marginally passable as an effeminate dude. Suffice it to say that my gender isn’t welcome amidst the mist of those showers. My desire for dick instead led me to The Great Refusal: Taking on New Queer Aesthetics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries. Curated by SAIC faculty member Oli Rodriguez in collaboration with SAIC undergraduates and recent alumni, the exhibition spans nearly four white-cube gallery spaces and encompasses work by more than 50 artists.

The Great Refusal focuses mostly on an academically minded queer aesthetic. It successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do — investigate how queerness intersects with race, gender, class, and sexuality, and consider how these intersections could form a new queer aesthetic. What the exhibition sidesteps, however, are the warm fuzzies — community, love, utopic futures, and semblances of spiritualized queerness. In refusing to accept current readings of queerness, the show accomplishes much, but unfortunately the softer themes of acceptance are mostly lost amid the overwhelming supply of concept-heavy, theory-based works of art.

Read the full story on Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/57800/new-queer-aesthetic/