by Shraddha NairPublished on : Aug 28, 2022
When I look back at my time in art school, the one thing I recall is the ringing conviction in the potential of art in community building. I know I might forget what I learnt in the classroom but I will never forget the many evenings we spent poring over paintings or soaking in the songs of musicians who played us into the night. The collective experience of art possesses an irreplaceable magic. It is a catalyst for conversation, and community. Curator and director of Are You Proud? (2019), Ashley Joiner, leverages this spark to run QUEERCIRCLE (QC). Located on Soames Walk in London, QC is an organisation that plays many roles. It functions as an art gallery, an interactive art community space and charitable organisation. QC stands at the intersection of art, culture and social change, bringing together creative practitioners and art lovers to find a safe space for expression and dialogue. Joiner took some time to tell us about their journey in making QUEERCIRCLE a shared reality.
While Joiner and I were catching up on a video call a couple of weeks ago, QUEERCIRCLE was hosting a Queer POC mentorship programme. The building was full of participants and bustling with activity. Joiner found a quiet spot in the library and began to tell us the story of how QC was conceived. “I personally was needing a new way to meet people that did not revolve around alcohol. There was also a community need. London has seen a closure of 60 per cent of LGBTQ+ spaces in the past decade. So really it was about bringing those two things together, the personal and also the community, the political. So, I started something called the QUEERCIRCLE which did not have much of an agenda other than to celebrate LGBTQ+ artists and provide a new way for us as a community to come together. It was very DIY with no funding. It just seemed to really resonate with people,” they said. Joiner began QC with small showcases, group meetings and DIY exhibition set-ups. The initiative gathered momentum as more people volunteered to share their time and resources with the organisation. QC would host and organise screenings, history tours and any event the local queer community wanted to set in motion.
In the years prior to setting up the building on Soames Walk, Joiner hosted regular consultation groups, bringing together creative practitioners from across fields. Joiner told us, “They shared their experiences as queer artists and creators, very much in line with the way the women’s liberation movement came about”. These groups helped Joiner better understand the social and cultural requisites needed to construct an interactive and evolving space.
If you are a regular frequenter of art galleries and museums, you are familiar with this recurring dynamic that plays out – the visitor delicately tip toes around mounted artworks, observing from a safe, specified distance only, and leaves without offering anything in return to the space apart from a ticket fee. Joiner, wanting to challenge this relationship, has conceptualised QC so that it is run by community interest and action. The space invites regular feedback from visitors and creates a safe container for exploration.
Each year QC’s calendar is divided into three seasons. Each season has an exhibition commission, an archive exhibition and a participatory residency. Each of those respond to an annual theme. Between each season QC opens up for a one-month long catalyst period, and invites a different LGBTQ+ organisation to take over the space. “We recognise that having this space is not something everyone has access to, and it’s becoming increasingly scarce in London so we want to share that,” Joiner added. QC is going further into integrating the community by including them in a six-month long process to create an evaluation framework for curatorial direction to use going forward.
The theme at QC for 2022 is ecology. In consideration of the overlapping verticals of ecological destruction and marginalised communities, Joiner shared how bringing the conversation to ecology is the need of the hour. They said, “It is the most pressing thing we need to discuss. This is the arena where queer voices need to be elevated, particularly artists of colour. We know that climate change disproportionately affects marginalised communities, POCs and indigenous communities. The effects are local and the change is also local, and that is how we contribute to the global conversation.” While keeping the concept universally relatable, Joiner hopes for QC to hold space for important conversations without placing queer artists into boxes, allowing the artist to decide when their own marginalised identity becomes relevant to the work.
The inaugural commission exhibition features Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s immersive installation. The work encourages you to sit inside of it, walk over it and touch it, thereby dissolving the divide between viewer and art. Let Me Hold You is Yearwood-Dan’s expression of the interconnectedness between the human and non-human experience. The artist seeks to expand our understanding of what it means to be queer and to love. The archival exhibition on view, titled The Queens’ Jubilee, shares rare documentary photography tracing the introduction of drag performance into culture and radical politics. Both showcases are on view at QUEERCIRCLE until September 8, 2022.
by Rosalyn D`MelloSep 16, 2022
by Rahul Kumar, Samta NadeemSep 13, 2022
by Urvi KothariSep 24, 2022
Shraddha Nair
Shraddha is a writer and curator based in Bengaluru, India. Her curatorial practice is a method by which she negotiates with and navigates the complexities of human behaviour, an interest which flows into her writing as well. She believes that art and collective experience hold immense capacity in the cultivation and development of action and emotion.
Shraddha is a writer and curator based in Bengaluru, India. Her curatorial practice is a method by which she negotiates with and navigates the complexities of human behaviour, an interest which flows into her writing as well. She believes that art and collective experience hold immense capacity in the cultivation and development of action and emotion.
by Sunena V Maju Sep 27, 2022
In Riga, Latvia, the local community took the initiative to convert a brownfield site into a community garden, aiding the recreation and gardening needs of the neighbourhood.
by Devanshi Shah Sep 25, 2022
In a conversation with STIR, Ben Evans talks about the role and impact of the London Design Festival and London Design Biennale on the city.
by Sunena V Maju Sep 24, 2022
The winners of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2022 respond to social issues and extend an architectural responsibility toward communities, culture and environment.
by Zohra Khan Sep 24, 2022
Travel through British architect Sam Jacob’s witty and unconventional guide that brings 20 Things to see in London’s Earl’s Court.
by Zohra Khan Aug 29, 2022
by Anushka Sharma Jul 22, 2022
by Ayushi Mathur Jul 15, 2022
by Jerry Elengical Sep 13, 2022
by Dhwani Shanghvi Sep 09, 2022
get regular updates SIGN UP
© Copyright 2019-2022 STIR Design Private Limited. All rights reserved.
Don’t have an account?
Or you can join with
Please confirm your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password
Already signed up?
Don’t have an account?

with us and you can:
All your bookmarks will be available across all your devices from anywhere on the globe.
Already signed up?
Or you can join with
Your preferences have been successfully saved to your profile.
Please select your profession for an enhanced experience.
Tap on things that interests you.
by Sukanya Deb Jul 04, 2022
by Jerry Elengical Jul 25, 2022
by Jerry Elengical Aug 11, 2022
by STIRworld Aug 06, 2022
by Jerry Elengical Jul 19, 2022
Select the Conversation Category you would like to watch
Please enter your details and click submit.

source

Shop Sephari