Here’s an excerpt from Michèle Pearson Clarke’s interview with Jess T. Dugan for Strange Fire Collective! Take a look at the full interview at the link below, with plenty of insights into her artistic practice and curatorial approach in particular.
JTD: For the past year, you have been an artist-in-residence at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, where you have been researching queer curatorial strategies and curating an exhibition of contemporary Canadian LGBTQ+ artists, We Buy Gold, opening soon (exact date TBD due to COVID) at TPW Gallery as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival. What led to your interest in curatorial work? I’d love to hear about what you’ve been researching this past year and your thoughts on queer curatorial strategies more broadly.
MPC: Curating wasn’t really on my radar, but when I was applying for the residency a year ago, we were in the midst of that early phase of the pandemic when mutual aid and community support were at the forefront. In that spirit, curating an exhibition felt like the best use of this residency opportunity, and it also allowed me to purposefully integrate my personal practice with my Photo Laureate role.
With the residency set within an academic setting, focusing on research also seemed to make sense, and so I just read as many queer curating articles, interviews and blog posts as possible, and then I collected and shared them on my website. I also took an online course called “Queer Art and Queer Curating” through Node Center, and I hosted an online conversation on the politics and practices of queer curating in Canada in March.
Through this research and these conversations, it’s clear that queer curating means many different things to different people. I’m walking away with a great appreciation of the value and importance of bringing queer ethics, collectivity and activism to the process of curating, and the possibilities that come from imagining otherwise within exhibition-making spaces. What the museum or art gallery presents, how it presents it, what it collects, how it treats artists, staff, and audiences – queer curatorial strategies have something to offer all these structural processes.