“In this interview with artist Bug Davidson, exhibiting in Queer Cultural Center’s ReMix: ReFraming Appropriation, now through June 26th, Davidson discusses how it is necessary to be flexible with labels as an artist and talks about his work Screen Tests in addition to his work with the grassroots film organization Homoscope in Austin, Texas. For more information about Davidson and his work visit Hybrid Vigor Productions.” – Erica Gomez, SOMArts Curatorial Intern
As an artist, how do you navigate through the challenges of maintaining a sense of autonomy, while still putting forth your many “selves” into your work and in the community? Do you ever feel that your work is eclipsed by identities such as sexual orientation, gender, race, age, etc.? Do you feel that you are pigeonholed because of these identities?
I don’t worry about being labeled. I notice that others say what they like about you. They will label you. So I have decided to combat that in my life by labeling myself early and often, and not being afraid of contradictions. This is an easy task for an artist that is constantly changing, and labeling work. The same goes for work, we are always going to put artwork out in the world that we feel as artists speaks to certain themes or communities, yet the viewer feels they would define them under other headings. It’s a wishy washy world and ya gotta be flexible.
Then I wonder if what this question is really talking about is the visibility of work made by artists that are out, festivals that showcase the work of queer artists, etc. Is the question really “are you concerned that by participating in the queer artworld that you will be labeled as such, and be cast to the side as a permanent other?” Yes and no. Stay hungry and stay flexible. Be a queer, christian, lesbian-transman, multilingual satinist, lover of dogs that can’t stand pets.
Is the question “If I come out will I be asked to speak for the community?” “Is there still a prejudice against queer and gender variant people?” “Could this affect me politically?” All replies are no (yes).
I’m really excited about themes of visibility and representation in queer arts. How did this project come to fruition?
I started shooting Screen Tests many years ago while thinking about Queer visibility in general. It would be very interesting to me to be able to shoot the same subjects again. The 16mm film format has the possibility of a time stopping effect for me, and I think that is interesting regarding queer visibility, maturation, and how we see ourselves. Here I label myself nostalgic.
How has your work developed and progressed over the years?
I hope to wish and want to dream to be thoughtful. I am now working in both the narrative film world and the contemporary art world with moving images. That seems the best fit for me right now, the most challenging.
Are you still working out of Austin? Have you seen the community change since you’ve been involved in the queer arts scene there?
My home is in Austin, although I will be studying for one more year in Boston. I think the queer art scene in Austin is such a vital, amazing beast. There are artists here that blow my mind with their talent and courage. I have an inspiring community around me. I have also been producing a film series called Homoscope in Austin for the past five years, and I have been lucky to bring wonderful experimental films to the community and speak to others about moving images in that way.
About the Interviewer:
Erica Gomez is currently a Curatorial Intern at SOMArts Cultural Center and has a B.A. from Metropolitan State University, Denver, Colorado, in Art History, Theory and Criticism. She has been accepted into the California College of the Arts Visual and Critical Studies Graduate Program and will begin in the Fall of 2012.
For more information about internships at SOMArts, please click here.
Pictured: Bug Davidson, Film Still from Screen Tests, 16mm film, 2005-Present and production image from Miggy N Lil courtesy of Hybrid Vigor Productions