“Queer Tropics” at Transformer

“Queer Tropics”
Transformer (Washington, DC)
March 10–April 21, 2018

Curated by Charlie Tatum and Cameron Shaw

Transformer is proud to present Queer Tropics, a group exhibition that considers the abstract idea of the tropics and how that vision has been variously created, reinforced, and confronted. Originally presented at Pelican Bomb Gallery X in New Orleans, November 2017, Queer Tropics features artworks that examine the visual and cultural systems through which one imagines the landscape of the tropics as a site of leisure, sensuality, and play.

Queer Tropics proposes an ambiguous space where the viewer can indulge in the visual pleasure of palm trees and colorful patterns while questioning to what ends these images are and have been used. While Queer Tropics considers some specific geographic contexts, its focus is on the intangible and the imagined—contemplating an abstract, yet vivid, conception of the tropics.

Though not all of the artists included in Queer Tropics identify as queer, or produce work directly about queerness, the exhibition considers how landscape, culture, and identity affect the ways in which we conceive of subjecthood and are inflected by a sense of otherness, challenging commonly held notions of how the tropics have been defined through colonialism, history, and popular culture.

In Washington, DC, far from palm-lined streets and white-sand beaches, the dichotomy between workaday life and vacation fantasy is immediately felt. Featuring works by eight artists working in New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Kansas City—with varied relationships to the Global South—Queer Tropics both embraces and blurs this conceptual and literal distance in order to better understand how we relate to place, whether real or imagined.