Does a great job of representing queer art in Edinburgh and prompts questions surrounding LGBT+ life in 2017.
The show is separated thematically into artists dealing with the vitality and strength of the community, identity, the body, romance and desire and finally those who employ humour to address social issues surrounding sexuality. Some of these themes are less effectively signposted than others. The entranceway to the exhibition is lined with photography by Craig Waddell, whose work is a highlight of the exhibition. These first portraits are of members of Edinburgh’s notorious drag Haus, The Rabbit Hole Family. Through these portraits and others later in the exhibition, Waddell reinvents the formal portrait to be queer, exploring gender fluidity and social hierarchy.
The first room of the exhibition channels the colour and vibrancy associated with queer culture, with strong aesthetic and pop reference points, while the second room is a traditional white cube gallery space and is more contemplative. This first room plays with media, with special mention going to James Peter’s Equality and Diversity in the Wild West, a collage printed on backlit film with sound and light sensitive frames, creating an overwhelming, mesmerizing work which critiques the neoliberal desire to commercialise difference. It’s these critical, politically engaging artworks which are the most successful in the exhibition. In the larger gallery space the stand-outs are Edinburgh College of Art graduate Ed Twaddle and Krzysztof Strzelecki. The former’s minimal style and use of text is both witty and thought-provoking, addressing issues surrounding pornography and masculinity, while the latter’s photographs explore queer identity construction within a Muslim country.
These fascinating artworks are somewhat undermined, however, by details that seem to be unfinished in the exhibition. On entering the room it was clear that one painting had come loose and rather than being re-hung, had been propped up against the wall. There are names of performance artists in the information booklet, but no details about when these performances take place. Certain works unfortunately have an almost naff quality to them, concentrating on well-worn themes such as isolation and acceptance, which, while interesting, lack the powerful, compelling messages put forward in other works and fail to bring complexity or a unique perspective to existing debates surrounding queer culture. While it was interesting seeing LGBTory (a Conservative LGBT+ organisation) patron, Ian Duncan’s artwork displayed, bringing diversity of political representation to the exhibition, I was also struck by a lack of people of colour and bisexual representation.
Despite this, Queer Pop is free and well worth a visit. It does a great job of representing queer art in Edinburgh and prompts questions surrounding LGBT+ life in 2017.