Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance at CA2M Centro de Arte dos de Mayo

Artists: Charles Atlas, Dawoud Bey, Joan Jett Blakk, David Bronstein, Willie Cole, Emory Douglas, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ellen Gallagher, Bam Bam Garçon, Gerard H. Gaskin, Lyle Ashton Harris, Benji Hart, Juliana Huxtable, Arthur Jafa, Marsha P. Johnson, D’relle Khan, Crystal LaBeija, Zoe Leonard, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, L.O.V.E. Lesbians Organized for Video Experience, Dorothy Low, Paul Maheke, MikeQ, Rashaad Newsome, Lorraine O’Grady, Paper Tiger Television, Adrian Piper, Carl Pope Jr., Pope.L, Qween Beat, Jay Jay Revlon, Marlon T. Riggs, Sylvia Rivera, Martha Rosler, Stephen Shames, Frank Simon, Lorna Simpson, Bruce W. Talamon, Terre Thaemlitz, Wu Tsang, James Van Der Zee, Jack Walworth, Andy Warhol, Cornel West, Ernest C. Withers, and a multitude of past and future voguing bodies

Exhibition title:  Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance

Curated by: Sabel Gavaldon and Manuel Segade

Venue: CA2M Centro de Arte dos de Mayo, Madrid, Spain

Date: November 16, 2017 – May 6, 2018

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artists, CA2M Centro de Arte dos de Mayo and the respective copyright holders

Note: Exhibition guide can be found here

Bodies are both agents and products of history. Bodies are history made flesh, as much as they are primary tools for interpreting the past, present and future. History is a choreographic sequence of gestures that make us legible to others. Each gesture is a link in a chain that binds us to gender, race and social class. Gestures solidify into identities. They speak to identities that are naturalised through the systematic repetition of identical gestures. And yet a pose is more than that. Posing implies an acute awareness of how a body makes history. To strike a pose is to pose a threat, as Dick Hebdige wrote in relation to the meaning of style in youth subcultures. That is why we need to trace the history of dissident gestures, and to reconstruct the genealogy of those poses that are bold enough to confront the norm. This modality of performance can be described as radical, as it opens up space to imagine other possible bodies and futures. Radical performance invokes subjectivities for which there is still no name and social choreographies that are yet to come.

This notion of radical performance is what defines voguing, a popular culture that unfolds around transgender pageants and spectacular dance battles between queens of Black and Latino descent. Vogue is a defiantly queer dance form whose roots go deep into the history of the Black LGTB community. It takes its inspiration from fashion magazine poses, appropriating the elitist imaginary of haute couture, as well as adopting the vocabulary of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Asian martial arts, and Afrofuturism. This transgender, multicultural hallucination turns the aesthetics of voguing into an emblem for an alternative, fiercely underground scene. We are referring to the so-called ballroom scene. A community that flourished in 1980s New York as a response to the AIDS crisis, although its history can be traced back to a century of fragile coalitions between minority subjects which dominant culture has again and again consigned to the margins, incarcerated, pathologised and punished throughout the modern period. In the stylised poses of voguing, the dancer’s hands do much more than simply draw figures in the air. These poses transcribe in the flesh a history of resilience and cultural struggles that go all the way back to the 1920s and the first massive drag balls held during the Harlem Renaissance. Today ballroom culture, with its elaborate rules, aesthetics and forms of social organisation, still provides a platform to articulate queer energies and dissident bodies in what constitutes a case study of radical performance.

This exhibition explores ways in which minorities use their bodies to produce dissenting forms of beauty, subjectivity and desire. These minoritarian poetics and politics are perceived as a threat to the normative world, yet at the same time coveted by mainstream culture (one only needs to think of the exploitation of voguing by artists like Madonna). Naturally, it would be impossible to offer a fixed, static portrait of such a complex and changing world as the ballroom scene. Instead, this exhibition delves into a political history of the body in order to map out the debates, conflicts and culture wars that intersect in the birth of voguing, while looking for its echoes and resonances in the history of performance and popular culture in the African diaspora. Under this lens, voguing reveals itself as a case study to understand the emergence of radical performance and its potential to articulate new social imaginaries.

Elements of Vogue can be inscribed within the lines of research at the core of CA2M’s programme, which explores the intersections between contemporary art, music, visual cultures and subcultural phenomena.

Mixtape commissioned to DJ MikeQ, founder of the Qween Beat label.
SoundCloud audio can be found here

RASHAAD NEWSOME: King of Arms Ballroom installation, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and De Buck Gallery, New York

RASHAAD NEWSOME: King of Arms Ballroom installation, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and De Buck Gallery, New York

RASHAAD NEWSOME: King of Arms Ballroom installation, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and De Buck Gallery, New York

PAUL MAHEKE: The dance floor could never be a story with one voice. The dance floor is packed with stories all pulsating with their own experiences and needs, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Sultana, Paris

ELLEN GALLAGHER: DeLuxe, 2004–2005, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Larry Gagosian Collection. Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian, New York, and Hauser & Wirth, New York

ELLEN GALLAGHER: DeLuxe, 2004–2005, Photo by Arantxa Boyero — Larry Gagosian Collection. Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian, New York, and Hauser & Wirth, New York

ELLEN GALLAGHER: DeLuxe, 2004–2005, Larry Gagosian Collection. Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian, New York, and Hauser & Wirth, New York

ELLEN GALLAGHER: DeLuxe, 2004–2005, Larry Gagosian Collection. Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian, New York, and Hauser & Wirth, New York

ELLEN GALLAGHER: DeLuxe, 2004–2005, Larry Gagosian Collection. Courtesy of the artist, Gagosian, New York, and Hauser & Wirth, New York

PAUL MAHEKE: The dance floor could never be a story with one voice. The dance floor is packed with stories all pulsating with their own experiences and needs, 2017, Photo by Arantxa Boyero — Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Sultana, Paris

MARTHA ROSLER & PAPER TIGER TELEVISION: Martha Rosler Reads Vogue, 1982; RASHAAD NEWSOME: Shade Compositions (SFMOMA), 2012, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York, and De Buck Gallery, New York

Rashaad Newsome. Preview of “Shade Compositions (SFMOMA)”, 2012. (3 min preview). Courtesy of the artist and De Buck Gallery, New York

CARL POPE JR.: The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, 2005–ongoing, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist

CARL POPE JR.: The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, 2005–ongoing, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist

CARL POPE JR.: The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, 2005–ongoing, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist

CARL POPE JR.: The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, 2005–ongoing, Courtesy of the artist

CARL POPE JR.: The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, 2005–ongoing, Courtesy of the artist

CARL POPE JR.: The Bad Air Smelled of Roses, 2005–ongoing, Courtesy of the artist

LORNA SIMPSON: Stereo Styles, 1988, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Collection of Raymond Learsy, New York

WILLIE COLE: Bling, 2016, Photo by Arantxa Boyero — Courtesy of the artist and Alexander and Bonin, New York

WILLIE COLE: Lizard Mommy, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Alexander and Bonin, New York

WU TSANG: For how we perceived a life (Take 3), 2012; RASHAAD NEWSOME: King of Arms Ballroom installation, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin, and De Buck Gallery, New York

WU TSANG: For how we perceived a life (Take 3), 2012, (Still frame) Courtesy of the artist, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin

WU TSANG: For how we perceived a life (Take 3), 2012, (Still frame) Courtesy of the artist, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin

WU TSANG: For how we perceived a life (Take 3), 2012, (Still frame) Courtesy of the artist, Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin

CHARLES ATLAS: Butchers Vogue, 1990; GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists and Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York

GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist

GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist

GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Courtesy of the artist

GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Courtesy of the artist

GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Courtesy of the artist

GERARD H. GASKIN: Legendary series, 1996–2010, Courtesy of the artist

CORNEL WEST: The Gifts of Black People in the Age of Terrorism. Inaugural conference for the Toni Morrison Lecture Series at Princeton University, 20 October 2006, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of Princeton AAS-21

Cornel West. Excerpt from “The Gifts of Black Folk in the Age of Terrorism”. Inaugural conference for the Toni Morrison Lecture Series at Princeton University, 20 October 2006

Exhibition view of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists

GLENN LIGON: Condition Report, 2000, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

ERNEST C. WITHERS: I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, Tennessee, 1968; EMORY DOUGLAS: We Shall Survive Without A Doubt, 21 August,1971; WIN MCNAMEE: A chalk outline, a bag of Skittles, and a can of iced tea are seen during the Trayvon Martin vigil outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington D.C., 2013; STEPHEN SHAMES: Free Huey Rally, 1968, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists, Withers Family Trust, Memphis, Art Resource, New York, Getty Images, and Steven Kasher Gallery, New York

JAMES VAN DER ZEE: Welcome, c.1940, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee, New York

ARTHUR JAFA: Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death, 2016, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York and Rome

Arthur Jafa. Preview of Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, 2016. (60 sec preview). Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York

ARTHUR JAFA: Love Is the Message, The Message Is Death, 2016, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown’s enterprise, New York and Rome

D’RELLE KHAN, BAM BAM GARÇON & JAY JAY REVLON: Londons Ballroom scene vogues in solidarity with the victims of homophobic terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub during the Orlando Vigil demonstration in SoHo, 2016; GLENN LIGON: Condition Report, 2000, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists, Zing Tsjeng, Luhring Augustine, New York, Regen Projects, Los Angeles, and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

D’relle Khan, Bam Bam Garçon & Jay Jay Revlon. “London’s Ballroom scene vogues in solidarity with the victims of homophobic terrorist attack to Pulse nightclub at Orlando Vigil in SoHo”, 2016. Courtesy of Zing Tsjeng

Exhibition view of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists

JOAN JETT BLAKK: Joan Jett Blakk for President, 1992; SYLVIA RIVERA & L.O.V.E TAPES COLLECTIVE: Sylvia Rivera Speech at the Gay Price Rally at Washington Square Park, New York City, Saturday 24 June, 1973, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists, Mark Geller, CA2M Collection, Móstoles, and L.O.V.E (Lesbians Organized for Video Experience) Tapes Collective

ZOE LEONARD: I Want a President, 1992/2016; JOAN JETT BLAKK: Joan Jett Blakk for President, 1992, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists, Hauser & Wirth, New York, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne, Mark Geller, and CA2M Collection, Móstoles

JOAN JETT BLAKK: Joan Jett Blakk for President, 1992, Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin — Courtesy of the artist, Mark Geller, and CA2M Collection, Móstoles

JOAN JETT BLAKK: Joan Jett Blakk for President, 1992, Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin — Courtesy of the artist, Mark Geller, and CA2M Collection, Móstoles

Joan Jett Blakk. “Joan Jett Blakk announces candidacy for President”. 12 min excerpt from footage shot by Bill Stamets. Courtesy of the artist and Media Burn Archive, Chicago

JAMES VAN DER ZEE: Beau of the Ball, 1926, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee, New York

Exhibition view of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artists

JULIANA HUXTABLE: Feminist Scam, 2017; The War on Proof, 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York

JULIANA HUXTABLE: Feminist Scam, 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York

POPE.L: Great White Way, 22 Miles, 5 Years, 1 Street (Segment 1: December 29, 2001), 2001, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

DAWOUD BEY: Pissed Off, 1982, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Daiter Gallery, Chicago

BRUCE W. TALAMON: Photographic documentation of David Hammonss production of body prints and ephemeral installations with hair in Los Angeles, 1974–1977, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist, Los Angeles

BRUCE W. TALAMON: Photographic documentation of David Hammonss production of body prints and ephemeral installations with hair in Los Angeles, 1974–1977, Courtesy of the artist, Los Angeles

BRUCE W. TALAMON: Photographic documentation of David Hammonss production of body prints and ephemeral installations with hair in Los Angeles, 1974–1977, Courtesy of the artist, Los Angeles

ADRIAN PIPER: The Mythic Being: Lets Have a Talk, 1975, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of ARCO Foundation Collection, CA2M, Móstoles

ADRIAN PIPER: The Mythic Being: Lets Have a Talk, 1975, Courtesy of ARCO Foundation Collection, CA2M, Móstoles

ADRIAN PIPER: The Mythic Being: Lets Have a Talk, 1975, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of ARCO Foundation Collection, CA2M, Móstoles

MARLON T. RIGGS: Tongues Untied, 1989, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of Signifyn’ Works and Frameline, San Francisco

Marlon T. Riggs. Trailer for “Tongues Untied”, 1989. Original video, 55 min. Courtesy of Signifyin’ Works and Frameline Distribution

MARLON T. RIGGS: Tongues Untied, 1989, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of Signifyn’ Works and Frameline, San Francisco

MARLON T. RIGGS: Tongues Untied, 1989, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of Signifyn’ Works and Frameline, San Francisco

LYLE ASHTON HARRIS: Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix), 2017; Untitled (Silver Lake, 1994), 2016, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Gallery, New York

LYLE ASHTON HARRIS: Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix), 2017, Photo by Pedro Agustín — Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Gallery, New York

Lyle Ashton Harris. Single-channel preview of the multi-screen installation “Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix)”, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Gallery, New York

LYLE ASHTON HARRIS: Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix), 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Gallery, New York

LYLE ASHTON HARRIS: Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix), 2017, Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94 Gallery, New York

BENJI HART: Dancer as Insurgent, 2017. Performed on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte dos de Mayo, Madrid

Kiki Ball celebrated on 20 January 2018 at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Organised by Silvi ManneQueen within the exhibition Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance at CA2M

KENDALL MUGLER voguing on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

KENDALL MUGLER voguing on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

KENDALL MUGLER and SILVI MANNEQUEEN at the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

JAVIER NINJA voguing on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Arantxa Boyero

TYPHOON ANGELS at The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018). CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018), as part of the exhibition Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018) at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

MATYOUZ LADURÉE voguing on The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018) at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

BASTIAN HURRICANE voguing on The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018) at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

INES DELICIOUS EBONY voguing on The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018) at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018), as part of the exhibition Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance. CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

SILVI MANNEQUEEN voguing on The Fabulous Kiki Ball (20 January 2018) at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid. Photo by Patricia Nieto

Opening party of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

Opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

PAUL MAHEKE’s performace MBU (featuring Cédric Fauq) on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Arantxa Boyero

PAUL MAHEKE’s performace MBU (featuring Cédric Fauq) on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Arantxa Boyero

PAUL MAHEKE’s performace MBU (featuring Cédric Fauq) on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Arantxa Boyero

PAUL MAHEKE’s performace MBU (featuring Cédric Fauq) on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

BENJI HART’s performance Dancer as Insurgent on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

BENJI HART’s performance Dancer as Insurgent on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

BENJI HART’s performance Dancer as Insurgent on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

BENJI HART at the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

SILVI MANNEQUEEN on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

KIDDY SMILE and SILVI MANNEQUEEN testing sound before the opening of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

KENDALL MUGLER and KIDDY SMILE preparing for their performances on the opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

Opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Arantxa Boyero

Opening night of Elements of Vogue: A Case Study in Radical Performance, at CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid, 2017. Photo by Gerard H. Gaskin

Related Post

Leave a Comment