CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo

The fabulous kiki ball CA2M


ELEMENTS OF VOGUE. A CASE STUDY OF RADICAL PERFORMANCE
EXHIBITION BOOK



Elements of Vogue was held at CA2M between November 2017 and May 2018. The exhibition looked at how minorities use their bodies to create dissident forms of beauty, subjectivity and desire. Voguing is an underground dance inspired by fashion magazine poses and invented by bodies that have been repeatedly criminalized, racialized, medicalized and punished. It emerged in the Afro-American community before extending to the rest of the world. The success of the project was basically down to word-of-mouth: without any mainstream media coverage, it turned out to be the museum’s most successful exhibition ever in terms of audience. We would like to think that the main reason for this is that the social transformation for the inclusivity of all bodies is one of the core tasks of our museums.

This book has just been released now coinciding with the end of the exhibition’s tour to Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City, where it closed its doors just a few days before the country went into lockdown. When the exhibition opened in Madrid, the CA2M published Cuerpo político negro, a reader or compilation of critical and theoretical essays on the black political body that are fundamental for a proper political understanding of blackness today. When conceiving this new book, we were thinking a lot about two terms related with voguing: reading and shading. The former refers to a kind of verbal sparring or battle of wits in which you call out your rival’s flaws. The latter, shading, is a more indirect form of mocking or creative bitching which can be both a putdown or backhanded compliment. So, the reader from 2017 is now matched with this year’s shader.

In this book, the curatorial texts undertake a reading of radical performance through each one of the works on exhibit at CA2M, paired with crossed references and citations ―including statements by participants in the performances, runways and balls ― whose purpose is precisely to shade the exhibition narrative: in other words, they throw shade on any authorized interpretation of history. This book tends towards polyphony without any one voice standing out over the others. Among these voices, we have recovered the text of the opening performance by Benji Hart, we have translated into Spanish for the first time texts by the queer poets Essex Hemphill and Assotto Saint and we have recovered “Letter to the Dead”, a forgotten text by Marlon T. Riggs, fundamental in the context of the AIDS crisis.

We would like to think of this book as a collective choreography (or, better still, a shade composition). Shading is a rhetorical strategy on the margins of mainstream culture, always embodying the ambiguities of hegemonic language, always questioning any normative reading of history. We hope you will soon also be able to enjoy the printed version so that you can see ferranElOtro’s design in all its glory.

You can read the first part here and the second part here or download it on our publications page.