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One Queer City

February 1 - February 14


From November 16, 2020, to February 14, 2021, the School of Art Gallery presents One Queer City, a multi-site exhibition featuring the work of Jean Borbridge, Mahlet Cuff, Dayna Danger, Shawna Dempsey & Lorri Millan, Larry Glawson, and Ally Gonzalo. Curated by Blair Fornwald, SOA Gallery Director/Curator.

One Queer City revisits and builds upon the premises of One Gay City, a not-fully-realized public art installation by collaborative duo Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, who created three prints for transit shelters in 1997.  Each image featured smiling Winnipegger and the slogan “Winnipeg: One Gay City!” – a somewhat facetious claim aimed at then-Mayor Susan Thompson, who refused to officially sanction Gay Pride Day. The works were never installed in transit shelters, as the ad agency objected to the gay content.

One Queer City will see Dempsey and Millan’s project finally installed in transit shelters as it was intended. Public perceptions and attitudes toward gay people have shifted so significantly over the last two decades that is seems strange these images would arouse such controversy. Presenting them now makes this shift in attitudes toward queerness visible, and in doing so, underscores the radical potential of this work, and of art in general – by imaging more just and equitable realities, it can actually help will that reality into being.

One Queer City will also include bus shelter ads created by an intergenerational cohort of queer photo-based artists from Winnipeg whose works represent a range of intersectional identities. Brought together, they remind the viewer that there is no one queer experience, no homogeneous queer community, and that access and privilege is not granted equally or simultaneously to all. The artists employ a variety of representational strategies: some, like Dempsey and Millan, make carefully staged performative photographs, some take candid snapshots that capture moments of queer joy, and some capture their sitter’s careful performances of self in traditional portraiture. All are imbued with utopian glimmerings, articulating theorist José Esteban Muñoz’s assertion that queerness is a destination always just out of reach. Winnipeg wasn’t queer in the nineties, isn’t yet queer, but these glimmerings may help us to imagine a queer future on the horizon. By claiming public space to present these glimmerings, we can bring that future closer to the present.

Presented by the School of Art Gallery at the University of Manitoba in partnership with PLATFORM centre for photographic + media arts

Associated Programming:

  • Artists in Conversation

Online artist talk with Jean Borbridge, Mahlet Cuff, Dayna Danger, Shawna Dempsey & Lorri Millan, Ally Gonzalo, and curator Blair Fornwald.

November 19, 7:00 – 8:30 pm CST

Online via Zoom – Registration to be announced 

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