Since February 2010, Montréal-based artist Vincent Chevalier has kept a blog (www.pwifd.tumblr.com) cataloguing his sexual encounters in the public spaces of the city. For this presentation he is joined by Ryan Conrad, PhD candidate in Concordia’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Program, to discuss the questions raised by his work. The conversation will range from the historical and economic conditions shaping Montréal’s gay male sexual culture as well as the changing use of public, private and online spaces for sexual encounters. Vincent Chevalier contributed to ABC : MTL, an open-source initiative at the CCA that maps contemporary Montréal in a diversity of ways and media. A series of public programs accompanies the exhibition.
Event information: 28 March 2013, 7:00 pm
Presented in English
PWIFd designs for exhibition
‘If Chevalier is interested in the ways text and official discourse might make sense of us, he also wants to consider the ways identities might be established and repeated through and against established tropes. In his 2009 performance The Red Carpet Treatment, Chevalier walked from his now former apartment in Verdun to the Belgo Building downtown, but only moving via the repetitive action of laying a two-metre red carpet down, walking its length, picking it back up, and repeating. If speech for Chevalier could stand for erotic preference, medial diagnosis, or mourning, the red carpet is his shorthand for both privilege and the politicized glamour of a past and present queer culture. “Taking up space becomes a political gesture and that can be in crossing gender boundaries, in protesting, [or] in speaking up and being loud. I’m marking this territory as mine. But I was disgusting. I was covered in dirt, sweaty, in pain.” The labourious treatment of a symbol for a positive identity expression seems to wear it out, in ways that suggest the contradictory need to both preserve and revitalize symbols of resistance – a neutralization of queer glamour. Chevalier states his reservations of contemporary queer identity politics, when identity might overly rely on cultural shorthand “as if they’re the full monty instead of a marker.” But, his work seems to ask: could the rehearsed ways in which we might express ourselves be necessary or essential?
These are questions that Chevalier has developed and honed in a distinct queer artist scene of Montreal, one that he’s hoping to integrate into his new job at ARTSPACE; together, we tentatively title this career objective “faggots across Canada.” It’s this kind of humour, tinged with a sociopolitical conviction, that is visualized in Chevalier’s work but also recognizable in the daily dangers and pratfalls of hoping one could be capable of transmitting and offering the sincere, the fake, the worthless, the attached, and the deeply serious. But could such transparency in talking, fucking, or grieving, in fact be possible? When I ask Chevalier if his work might be cynical, he answers, “I think there’s always a little bit of hope. I try to work with a little bit of humour, not really explicitly. My work is earnest, not honest, earnest.”’
—Joseph Henry for the McGill Daily
“Just because I’m poz doesn’t mean I’m a fearless mofo. I have to worry about criminalization, disclosure, I have to worry about people finding out that I don’t want to find out,” Chevalier tells me. In spite of these anxieties, the 28 yr-old artist speaks with a self-assurance that suggests he knows his work is onto something. HFML has led him to field questions from hundreds of anonymous viewers and users who ask him inane questions like “How do you deal with your AIDS?” and assume that he “got it because of mistakes” he’s made.
“I take it all very seriously. It’s a curious thing where my art starts to teach sexual health, such as with consent and disclosure,” he explains, adding that his audience doesn’t always know when he’s joking – he facetiously refers to his status and its consequences as “my AIDS” – but he knows from personal experience that the stigma faced by HIV positive people is all too real. His practice delves into the intersection of the luxuriously self-obsessed (“my selfish reason for making work”) and the defiantly personal. His “political reason” for making his excessively personal art practice “is to critique what people expect of poz people, to ask ‘what does it mean for me to give you everything and it still not be enough?””
Check out the article for No More Potlucks (NMP) I wrote about my Places Where I’ve Fuck’d (PWIFd) project.
LOOK IT UP
So… when did you figure out that you had AIDS? (2010) Video, 5:26mins
Walking the red carpet for CAFKA.TV last September. ((I am such a faggggggggggy interview subject… zomg i can’t bear to watch this too much))
Vincent Chevalier & Jason Gowans
The Friend, 2012
A traveller, an outlaw, a cruiser of parks,
an adventurer, a user, strange men in the dark.
A figure, a fiend, a hustler, a john,
a slave and a stud, a trick who has come.
COVERGIRL, PUT THE BASS IN YOUR WALK!
Oh look! An article on me written by Simon Thibault for Xtra.ca!
“‘Disclosure is a huge part of my everyday experience,’ he says. ‘It structures how I relate with people, the state, myself.’
Those disclosures encompass his life as an HIV-positive gay man living in the 21st Century. It is a life marked by sex, the internet and the politics that lie therein.”