Sexuality Summer School Presents (Up) Against Nature: Whiskey Chow & Ro Robertson
About Sexuality Summer School Presents (Up) Against Nature: Whiskey Chow & Ro Robertson
PRESENTED BY THE SEXUALITY SUMMER SCHOOL, CENTRE FOR THE STUDY OF SEXUALITY AND CULTURE, UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
Experience a screening of two filmed performances, one by Whiskey Chow, a performance artist and Chinese drag king, and the other by Ro Roberston, who explores the terrain of the Queer body, straddling sculpture, drawing, and performance for camera.
Whiskey will show ‘you must everywhere wander 你必顧盼’: a hybrid of performance, CGI animation and sound art, exploring queer body materialization and radical care; and Ro ‘birth build shift’ a performance for camera made on a beach popular with nudists on the Lands End peninsular, Cornwall.
Each artist will be present and will respond to their own work with a spoken piece, and the event will end with a dialogue between the artists and an audience Q&A, chaired by Jackie Stacey from the University of Manchester’s Sexuality Summer School.
About the Artists
Ro Robertson (they/them) (b. Sunderland 1984) is a contemporary artist based in West Cornwall. Robertson’s practice spans sculpture, drawing, painting and video, mediums through which they explore the boundaries of the human body and its environment.
Robertson works site specifically, often outdoors, with a multi-sensory focus on the body in the landscape. Unity between the material of the natural landscape and the body reclaims a space for LGBTQ+ identity against a history of being deemed ‘against nature’. Physical explorations of the natural landscape feed into ‘automatic’ abstract drawings and short mediative performance for camera works. Within these performance works a base layer of underwear or a ‘raincoat layer’ is navigated- centred on external forces moving, shifting, or marking the body which appears in flux. The idea of a raincoat layer between body and environment is borrowed from the revolutionary novel Stone Butch Blues by Les Feinberg.
Robertson’s large-scale sculptures embed the fluidity of this cyclical practice into rigid and industrial materials such as Corten steel and marine paint, materials that bridge their family heritage of ship building and their sculptural practice.
Robertson’s public sculpture Drench, inspired by the energy of the tidal zone, was exhibited in Regent’s Park, London as part of Frieze Sculpture 2022 curated by Clare Lilley. Robertson’s first public sculpture Stone (Butch) was installed at London’s iconic Gherkin skyscraper 2021-22, commissioned for the 10th edition of Sculpture in the City. Stone (Butch) is now installed at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, where is it part of the permanent collection. Past group exhibitions include On Queer Ground at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Seen at Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange. Works by Robertson are also held in the collection of the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and The Hepworth Wakefield. Their series of hand welded steel sculptures titled ‘Torsos’ are exhibited in the group exhibition TRICKSTER FIGURES: sculpture and the body curated by Jes Fernie at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes.
London-based artist, activist and Chinese drag king. Whiskey’s practice engages with broadly defined political issues, covering a range of related topics: from queer masculinity, problematizing the nation-state across geographic boundaries, to stereotypical projections of Chinese/Asian identity. Her work is interdisciplinary, combining performance, moving image, experimental sound, installation, and performative printmaking.
As an artist-curator, Whiskey launched, led-curated and performed in ‘Queering Now 酷兒鬧’ in 2020 (as part of Chinese Arts Now Festival). Queering Now is a curatorial programme amplifying marginalized voices of the queer Chinese/Asian diaspora in the West. In addition to teaching at the Royal College of Art, Whiskey is also a Guest Lecturer at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Whiskey has been involved in feminist and LGBTQ activism in China since 2011. She contributed to and performed in ‘For Vaginas’ Sake 將陰道獨白到底 (2013)’ (original Chinese version of The Vagina Monologues), and curated the first Chinese LGBTQ music festival, ‘Lover Comrades Concert 愛人同志音樂會 (2013)’, Guangzhou.
‘you must everywhere wander 你必顧盼’ by Whiskey Chow was exhibited for On Queer Ground at Yorkshire Sculpture Park during the Summer of Love program 2022. Showcasing an imaginative queer masculine body-scape, where the spices used in Chinese cooking grow as spectacular natural landscapes. This work is a hybrid of filmed performance, CGI animation and sound art. It draws on Chinese myth and a sense of belonging from an Asian queer diasporic perspective. ‘you must everywhere wander 你必顧盼’ is a meeting point of transgressive queer desire, a dream homeland and reality.
birth build shift (2022), Ro Robertson’s performance for camera, draws on the energy of the tidal zone to traverse the terrain of the queer body. Moving from the shoreline to cliff crevice, forces of erosion, the movement of the tide and shifting of rocks dissolve the boundaries between body and landscape. birth build shift was exhibited for On Queer Ground at Yorkshire Sculpture Park during the Summer of Love program 2022.
Access and Content Warnings
If you have any access needs you want to discuss with us, please call the box office Tuesday to Friday between 12pm – 10pm on 0161 274 0600.
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This performance contains partial nudity.
ABOUT THE SEXUALITY SUMMER SCHOOL
The Sexuality Summer School (SSS) is a postgraduate summer school held annually in May at the University of Manchester. During the same week the Summer School also hosts a series of public events including lectures, films and performances. Throughout the year the Sexuality Summer School also co-sponsors events at the University and at venues like Contact and HOME, including Queer Contact and POUTfest.
CREDITS AND PARTNERS
Centre for the Study of Sexuality & Culture, University of Manchester
Dates & times
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