22 September 2017

Queer: Revisited

By Rico Johnson-Sinclair

Queer, for as long as we can remember, has been a dirty word. Birthed from intolerance, the word ‘queer’ has been a quiet whisper of hate, and a loud bellow of disgust. This is no longer the case.

Our community has both reclaimed the word and built something significant in its stead, stretching its contemporary arm into every facet of the creative industries, especially music.

So, let’s talk about Fluid Festival’s Fluid Exchange.

Extracting a concentrated and well curated taste of what Queer artforms have to offer, we have a rich mix happening at Stryx gallery on 23 September from 3pm until 6pm. Opening the festival at Minerva Works it offers spontaneity synonymous with Queer art with plenty to get stuck into.

James Lawrence Slattery is fast becoming one of the must-know names in film criticism and curation. With reviews that delve into the deep complexities of modern filmmaking their ability to link sometimes unseeming, but truly legitimate connections to Queer theory is magnificent. Their own work transcends that purely of film, working with all forms of visual arts including collage, performance and installation.

During the Fluid Exchange James’ specially curated programme will link audio to visual in a selection of works by Emily Pope and Ruth Angel Edwards, Ivan Robirosa, James Lawrence Slattery, Jim Warrier (aka Minuek) and Tom Doherty, all well-known artists within the Queer art hive.

Boy with Wings are a band everyone and anyone who’s dipped their toes into Queer music has heard. Their shows are legendary, and their music with invade your memory, providing the soundtrack to those moments you feel particularly awesome. Leo Fransico from the band ‘Boys with Wings’ and ‘Queerzone 3000’ collective, who Brummies may remember from SHOUT Festival 2016 at Grand Union Gallery, will be on hand to give you a crash course into music production. Queer music doesn’t play by linear rules but holds its own, in its own right, so be prepared to have your mind blown and your horizons widened. Queerzone 3000 are currently working on a collaboration with David Hoyle in the 9th of a series of podcasts available from their website. Give it a listen here: https://queerzone3000.net/david-hoyle/

So by now you are probably thinking, ‘this all sounds great but what is Queer music? What does it sound like?’

For those of you new to the vast world of Queer sounds, we’re joined by China Dethcrash, Birmingham’s drag queen on the come-up, hoping to revive a failing gay scene with an artistic flair. You may have seen her at Club Fierce’s Artist Behind Bars last Christmas serving us the witchiest of realness. In this collaboration with Olivia Sparrow who has been a staple at many group exhibitions and curatorial projects, these two goddesses talk to us about what queer sounds like.

For those of you who like your Queer sounds deliciously dark and kinda kinky, look no further than FUKC_BOI, who will be performing his brand of incredible sounds pieced together from degraded pornography and nearly uniform pop samples. We herald ‘the body is a window, full of mistakes’ as one of the queer EP’s of the year, reminiscent of a sample SOPHIE (see here). This artist bridges the gap between fetish art and music, providing a relentlessly intense soundtrack to our unfulfilled bliss. https://soundcloud.com/fukcboi

After pondering the soundscape, we delve into the spoken word with Rich Goodson. An artist eager to explore how poetry can sit alongside queer music to create a holistic listening experience. Rich’s Poetry book ‘Mr Universe’ has been likened to a future classic, and his unapologetic confrontation with the male body is in pursuit of an answer to the all-consuming question ‘what - if anything- does a male body mean.’ Rich will be reading excerpts from his book, and looking for opportunities to integrate into the sounds created by guests and potentially attendees. More

From poetry to prose, we’ll also be joined by Darryl W Bullock, the author of ‘David Bowie Made Me Gay’ and one of the most comprehensive writers in regards to Queer music history. Darryl discusses a range of subjects including but not bound by; the history of queer music in the mainstream, how queer music has historically been driven underground, the introduction of technology in regards to the stories of queer musicians, and the influences the LGBTQ community have had on music for generations. Signed copies of his book will be available to purchase.

It’s all too easy to overlook marginalized groups within the LGBTQ community, particularly QPOC (queer people of colour) in this current socio-political climate. UNMUTED, Birmingham’s very own safe space for QPOC, will be with us to hold discussions and offer a different perspective to a community that has been driven by the people that society deems the most visible. UNMUTED will give Birmingham’s QPOC population the insight to navigate dicey waters, to find support and places of visibility for those in the LGBTQ community that are still vulnerable.

Whichever way you slice it, there’s a plethora of things to get stuck into, and the perfect way to kick start the festival. Whether you seek knowledge about an unfamiliar subject, the practical skills for self-expression, or you just want to marvel at the accomplishments of an empire we have built for ourselves, Fluid Exchange truly has something for us all.


This project is supported by the Composer-Curator programme by Sound and Music