The News and the Center for Sex and Culture present: Lets Talk about (Queer) Sex in Performance Art, Tuesday, January 3

The News Roundtable 2016 by Evan Karp

As in other art forms, there is a legacy of both risk-taking performance art addressing sexuality made by queers of all stripes and polka dots AND a history of art censorship in the USA. How do we best support sexually explicit performance-making and -experiencing generally? What are concerns for the artists, audiences, and curators? How do we best support our queer culture makers who push back against censorship (self-censorship and external censorship)? What do we demand of ourselves as artists, curators, colleagues, communities, audience, and other collaborators? Are we writing a manifesto? Join featured speakers Carol Queen, Crystal Mason, Marc Meyer and and Brontez Purnell for this community conversation on best practices to support sexually explicit queer performance art.

The News and the Center for Sex and Culture present: Lets Talk about(Queer) Sex in Performance Art is a rare opportunity for Bay Area curators of performance to convene in an open conversation to share experiences, talk accountability and discuss strategies to create and advocate for spaces that support and respect our artists and audiences. It’s a conversation about what goes wrong, what goes right, and an exploration of what the factors and considerations are (or should be) in the process.

The roundtable will include featured speakers followed by an open forum. Notes from the discussion will culminate in a rough draft of shared strategies and tactics.

Speakers include:

Carol Queen, PhD. co-founded the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco and is staff sexologist and Company Historian at Good Vibrations, the women-founded sex shop, where she has worked since 1990. A noted cultural sexologist whose work has been widely published, she’s written, co-authored or edited several books, most recently The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone. She has been speaking publicly about sexuality for over 40 years; she frequently speaks to conferences and academic, general and specialized audiences. 

Carol Queen courtesy of the artist

Crystal Mason is a youngest child. Genderqueer. Social, and works for art and art making. Crystal Mason is a mover of emotions and thought. A lover who submits. A black person who can not hide, so I assert my right to be seen. Art maker, arts administrator, videographer and editor. The video In My Own Hands was commissioned in 2013 by Queer Rebels Productions and first shown as part of the National Queer Arts Festival’s show Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance. Since then In My Own Hands has been shown as part of the Mix New York Festival, at festivals in Berlin, Copenhagen and Glasgow.

Crystal Mason courtesy of the artist

Marc Mayer is the senior educator of contemporary art at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.  His work focuses on how to integrate contemporary art, public art practice, and performance into the museum’s traditional curatorial and programmatic focus. In 2013, Marc initiated the Artists Drawing Club, an on-going series where artists engage with the public to create original work that emphasizes connections between ideas, art, culture, and time. Additionally he has commission and curated two exhibition, Sanaz Mazinani: Threshold (2015) and Extracted: A Trilogy by Ranu Mukherjee at the Asian Art MuseumMarc previously contributed to original programming at Art21, the New Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Marc Meyer courtesy of the artist

Brontez Purnell is the author of the cult zine “Fag School,” Cruising Diaries, the frontman for his band “The Younger Lovers,” and founder of the Brontez Purnell Dance Company (BPDC). Formerly a dancer with Gravy Train!!!, his other collaborations include an ensemble role in the queer independent feature film, “I Want Your Love” (Dir. Travis Mathews, 2012), and dancing for local artist-choreographers Amara Tabor-Smith, Keith Hennessy, Eric Kupers, and Nina Haft, and South African artist-choreographer Athi-Patra Rugra. Since founding BPDC in 2010, Purnell has presented his original dance and movement theatre works at the Berkeley Art Museum, CounterPULSE, the Garage, Kunst-Stoff Arts, the Lab, and SOMArts. With cinematographer Gary Fembot Gregerson and lighting designer Jerry Lee, Purnell produced, choreographed, and scored “Free Jazz” (2012), a 8mm B&W dance film documenting “various dance parties, structured improvs, rituals and happenings” performed by BPDC between 2010 and 2012, which has been shown internationally. He was a guest curator for the Berkeley Art Museum’s L@TE program in 2012, awarded an invitation to the 2012 Radar Lab queer arts summer residency, honored by Out Magazine’s 2012 Hot 100 List and 2013 Most Eligible Bachelors List, and most recently won the 2014 SF Bay Guardian’s Goldie for Performance/Music. He earned a B.F.A. in Theatre and Contemporary Dance at California State University, East Bay.

Brontez Purnell by Raphael Villett

Images: The News Roundtable 2016, by Evan Karp; Carol Queen, Crystal Mason, and Marc Meyer, all courtesy of the artists; Brontez Purnell by Raphael Villett