Syrus Marcus Ware is the curator of That’s So Gay 2019. Syrus is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, community activist, researcher, youth-advocate and educator. He is the curator of That’s So Gay: Love Is A Battlefield 2019.
Pictured Above: Love Letters to Activists, Syrus Marcus Ware, 2016
That’s So Gay has grown to be an essential creative destination in Toronto’s west end during the city’s Pride festival. In previous years the exhibition has explored issues of cultural diversity and has provided an accessible lens for community expression and the general public to explore important social topics. That’s So Gay (TSG): Love is a Battlefield is a two month exhibition with two accompanying public programs and an opening event on June 20 at the Gladstone Hotel!
The exhibition will build on the past eight years of momentum which has allowed us to showcase art by, for and about LGBTTI2QQ creators, with a particular focus on artists on the margins of these communities.
These new projects created by LGBTTI2QQ artists about their experiences of disability, radicalization, class, and other intersectional experiences of identity interrupts the idea of a homogeneous queer community and re-imagines what it means to talk about our lived experiences as artists from a diversity of backgrounds.
The 2019 subtitle, Love is a Battlefield, refers to the many fights in our lives: struggles for self determination, love, safety and more. Love is a Battlefield conjures images of lovers shoulder to shoulder in the fight for freedom, but also suggests the tensions we have between each other, the struggles for understanding and solid communication that so many humans have difficulty with.
Love is a Battlefield has us consider the activism of a landscape littered with fallen heroes and symbols of organizing. It conjures images of of a world gripped by anti-black racism, colonialism, ableism and class struggles. It necessarily looks towards a future, for what lingers succeeds us into a future that is full of self determination for all queer and trans people, with a particular focus on rigid those on the margins into the centre.
The last two years has witnessed dramatic arts-based displays of activism within Toronto’s Pride Parade by Black Lives Matter TO, widespread support for INAC shut downs by Indigenous youth and ongoing actions in support of land defence and water protection. We have witnessed unprecedented coverage of cross-movement building amongst Indigenous, Black and POC Two-Spirited and LGBTTI2QQ communities, collective struggle and the need to unify and call for creative responses to transphobic and homophobic violence that is disproportionately affecting Indigenous and racialized trans women.
Pictured Above: Resistance Existence by JustSeeds (Jesse Purcell + Mary Tremonte) at TSG 2018
The exhibition highlights the need for artistic engagement and responses to propel our activisms into a new dimension. TSG: Love is a Battlefield will also include two performances by Bear Bergman (Toronto) and Megan G (Vancouver). Both Bergman and G will be creating interactive performances that centre around themes of family (Bergman) and black trans liberation (G).
Pictured Above: Decolonizing Canada 150 By Raven Davis at TSG 2017
I have selected the 14 artists in this exhibition based on the aesthetic quality of their work, their specific focus on identity and intersectionality in their work, and with a goal of telling new stories and engaging new audiences through this year’s exhibition. Artists have been asked to create new work that responds to the theme Love is a Battlefield. I will be working closely with each artist to create topic and site-specific works for the exhibition.
The artists selected represent the diversity of Canada and come from both Toronto as well as regional and rural areas.