Queering the Collection
The Van Abbemuseum is trying to become more and more inclusive all the time in all sorts of ways, and Queering can be seen as one of these methods. It is often assumed that queering only concerns subjects related to LGBTI and examines homosexuality in the arts. Although this is one of the important foundations of the method, queering takes one step further. Everything that goes against the grain or that is unexpected or fluid in terms of identity, sexuality and politics particularly has a central place in the process. Queering sees sexuality as being fluid and rejects the general categories and standards. With Queering the Collection the Van Abbemuseum is contributing to the visibility of the LGBTI heritage in the arts, providing support for gathering information and experimenting with it.
Queer Art (collection)
Two works from the Berlin artists Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz were recently donated to the Van Abbemuseum by Eindhoven collector Maurice van Valen. The video installations Normal Work and Toxic can be identified as queer art because the work provides space for the history of photography and its relationship with sexual identity and intimacy. In this way Boudry/Lorenz challenge the view that identity is a static entity which imposes limitations on others.
Queer Art (temporary programming)
The project Archivo Queer? Screwing the system (Madrid 1989 - 1995) can be seen in the exhibition The 1980s from 2 July until 25 September 2016. Archivo Queer? consists of an open archive filled with photographs, videos and texts of public performances, demonstrations and campaigns by queer movements in Madrid in the early 1990s, when the aids epidemic claimed many victims. The archive will be exhibited in the Van Abbe for the first time and shows an alternative to the patriarchal and hetero-oriented classification. The project was initiated by Fefa Vila Núñez, the promoter of the LSD artists’ movement, and Sejo Carrascosa from the Radical Gai group – in collaboration with the artist Andrés Senra and the researcher Lucas Platero.
In 2015 the Van Abbe published its first Queer Glossary. By providing a clear summary of the terminology related to queer issues from a personal perspective, the sociologist Alice Venir wrote this informative glossary together with the museum in order to stimulate discussions about queerness.
In July 2016 Qwearing the Collection opened as the 5th and final tool in the toolshop at the van Abbemuseum. Designer Olle Lundin who graduated cum laude with the project from the Man and Communication department at Design Academy Eindhoven in a collaboration with the Museum and sociologist Alice Venir.
Qwearing the Collection explores how a queer perspective can be used to change the experience of the museum and the art on display in it, therefore provoking further thoughts and analysis from the visitors. Using the term queer in its broad sense of otherness and fluidity opens to analyze any cultural archive from an intersectional standpoint, and shedding new light into the white cube of the museum space.
Qwearing the Collection consists of two main elements: firstly the questioning of relevant artworks and situations of the main art collection taking place on five informative garments through text and image. Secondly an introduction and contextualisation of the queer terms that are used in the enquiry which can be found and investigated on the scarfs. They both come together in the experience where the audience are invited to browse through the collection.
Accessing the information on the garments involves reading text and imagery from ones own body as well as the surrounding bodys partaking in the experience. This alters the performativity of the exhibition space and renegotiates the relation between the wearing and the non-wearing visitors, and already through the design itself introduces the user to concepts such as drag and performed identity.
Various activities will be organised in the Van Abbemuseum to correspond with Queering the Collection.
A QueerKino took place in November 2015, discussing the development of performance art and film from the 1960s to the early 1980s. The panel included the moderator Olle Lundin, the curator Diana Franssen, the sociologist Alice Venir and the interior architect Gabriel Ann Maher. They added a new layer of meaning to the films that were screened and related this to humor, sexual expression, the male outlook and social constructivism.
The assistant professor in Film & Literature Studies, Eliza Steinbock, gave a lecture on The Navigating Portraiture in March 2016. Using different trans-portraits by contemporary artists she examined the power relations at the basis of a portrait. How do you navigate your way through portraits without using gender terms? And how can the aesthetic values of trans-portrait techniques be made more vibrant?
In May 2016 a lecture is given in the context of the International Day against Homophobia. The researcher Luc Brants from the COC talked about the relationship between the flourishing homosexual and lesbian movement in Eindhoven and the increasing aggression against homosexuals in the 1980s, and provided a striking picture of how anti-homosexual violence actually contributed to the liberation of homosexuals in Eindhoven.
Facilities - Gender-neutral toilets
The restrictions of the division into only two gender identities for men and women become painfully obvious with regard to the use of toilets. People who do not have such an obvious identity feel victimized, classified in boxes, and feel that others tell them which toilet is for them and which is not. The Van Abbe would like to avoid these unfortunate confrontations by introducing gender-neutral toilets so that exclusivity is avoided in toilets. Just as toilets at home can be used by all genders, this is also possible in the Van Abbe, and no one is excluded.