Queer artists are orphans of a different stripe. They have no conventional genealogy or lineage, no family history or record. Instead, queer people write their own history through dreams, desires, and longings; theirs is a history of things, an archaeology that affirms the existence of queerness in the artifacts of centuries past.
Curated by Avram Finkelstein, “FOUND: Queer Archaeology; Queer Abstraction,” at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, undertakes the complicated task of excavating queer identity through a shared aesthetic. The show strives to sublimate the essential elements of what constitutes such an identity in the first place. How are artists today engaging with queerness in unexpected ways?
A founding member of the Silence=Death and Gran Fury collectives, Finkelstein has a long history of transgressive, politicized visions of queerness. Today, he’s preoccupied with legitimizing a strain of queer discourse that uses intersectional and feminist ideas to complicate the conversation. His exhibition surpasses a stereotypical fascination with the male body; further, it seeks to destroy the body politic in favor of an abstractionism that can better speak to the philosophical conundrums of queerness through the simultaneous masking and signaling of difference. “During the height of the McCarthy period, abstractionism helped artists fly under the radar of the Red Scare,” Finkelstein observes. “I wonder if there are elements of that happening now in Trump’s America—if abstraction might become a refuge, a place of experimentation and nestmaking for queer artists.”