I had been looking forward to being a part of TT Baum and Michael Grohall's performance from The Wedlock Project all week. Despite the terrible weather, I made my way to the ICA last night to participate in a (P)ublic (D)isplay of (A)cceptance. My straight counterpart? Arlette Kayafas, owner of Gallery Kayafas, and a dear friend of mine.
We learned a few things. One, that it is incredibly difficult to look at art while tethered to someone else. It didn't dawn on either of us until we actually entered the galleries just how individual an experience art-viewing usually is. We had to negotiate how close to get to a particular piece, whether to go left or right first, when to move on from a particular image or gallery. As much as it was an exploration into being visibly queer (or not) and the acceptance/validation that comes from that, it was also fascinating to be in a space meant for solitary viewing and attempting to keep pace with another art viewer. I'll have to go back to really look at the work on display.
I also learned, personally, that it is incredibly validating to have participated in the PDA. I am a very out, queer person, but I was surprised to feel my caution and reservation to ask a straight person to participate in this with me. And actually, I didn't ask. Arlette was so excited to participate she said "we're going- you're my date!" I am grateful for her support and enthusiasm, both of my work and of me as a person.
I found the entire experience moving and exciting. As a photographer, much of my work is made alone, or with one other person: my subject. It is thrilling for me to engage in art that is larger than one person and is as public as the PDA. I can't wait to see what is yet to come from TT and Michael, and to wholeheartedly be a part of it.
Below are some photos from the event:
Jess T. Dugan and Arlette Kayafas