coming out @ bmag
6 december 2017
The seventh standout for me was the viewer type. I saw brown people, black people, people from outside the UK. I saw LGBT+ people, straight people. I saw older people, younger people, children.
Most important of all, I heard them.
Refreshingly, it felt less like the rebellion non-straightness is forever thought of as and more like an educational opportunity.
This trails into the realm of taboo.
Recently, I had a discrepancy with someone who said something along the thinning lines of: “10 years ago, did we have people like that around?” - among other heinous offences. It goes without saying that I shut this nonsense down immediately, but upon further questioning they claimed it was a joke of sorts, and that they now know “not to talk about things like that [in front of me] in the future”.
A PG version of my reply was this:
“No. That is not the future. Please stop speaking of the subject as if it is taboo, because it’s not. I welcome you to ask as many questions as respectfully possible. I would much rather this than no conversation at all, because if we don’t ask how will we learn to unlearn?”
The same goes for exhibitions like Coming Out. I feel that overall this show worked to achieve this, and it ought to be a aim on the mind’s of every creative endeavour to open up spaces that are dedicated not to people but to education.
As an artist, I can fully corroborate the feeling of being used for your skin. The last thing I want to do is glorify artists of colour just for the sake of being of colour. At the same time, from the perspective of the spectator, POC artists - myself included, and creative labourers need to recognise and appreciate that as viewers we crave a need to be talked about. In fact, it’s a right - also then, a responsibility.
Coming Out is showing at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, UK from 2 December 2017 - 18 February 2018. Associated events can be found on the link below: