FUTURE: LGBT+ RIGHTS

33x33cm, photo and coloured paper

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Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Original art work with a colour photograph in the center of the piece, surrounded by swirling tendrils of intricately cut paper. The upper layer is dark purple, the backing layer is bright pink. Into the tendrils (in fluid, bendy capital letters) are hand cut phrases like "#MeToo",  "My consent as a queer, disabled sex worker is valid." and  “I’m only gay on Instagram”. The photograph at the center of the work is an interior shot with a very dark background. It is a head and torso portrait of Kitt, a white shaven headed human, starkly lit from above. They are wearing a paper shawl, cut in a similar style (and with similar phrases) to the tendrils in the work. The shawl is draped over one of Kitt's shoulders, covering one side of their chest. The other side of their chest is "open shirt bound" with black tape. Kitt holds a large kitchen knife in one hand, point pressed to their chest. They look upwards, and slightly to one side, in a dramatic, plaintive gesture-a bit like Guido Reni’s 17th century painting Death of Lucretia.

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Photograph overplayed with paper cutout text by Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li Future for the magistrates association 100 years of justice exhibition

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Photograph overplayed with paper cutout text by Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li Future for the magistrates association 100 years of justice exhibition

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li, Future: LGBT+ Rights, MA 100 Years of Justice

Photograph overplayed with paper cutout text by Lady Kitt in collaboration with Sarah Grundy Li Future for the magistrates association 100 years of justice exhibition

 

ABOUT THE WORK

This work is a collage documenting a performance to camera by Lady Kitt. The photograph is by artist Sarah Li and the hand cut paper is by Lady Kitt.

In Lady Kitt's own words

‘Legal History? Art History? - Why bother?’


For me, the answer to this questions is: Human-ness. Talking about and reinterpreting “old stuff” can tell us a lot about being human. Who we’ve been, who we are and who we might be in our imagined futures.


Just a little curious rummage around in art history, for example, can reveal un / undertold stories and help us forge connections to, and through, the past.


With this commission my inspiration was an ongoing fascination with Guido Reni’s 17th century painting Death of Lucretia and my focus was: Consent for and by LGBTQ+ communities.


Reni’s painting tells a deeply disturbing story about historical approaches to bodily autonomy. It also illuminates how far we still have to come in creating models of consent today, in terms of sex, medicine and data. I’m interested in who our Lucretias are in 2020? Who feels pressure to “martyr” themselves in order to evidence the lived, and legal, consequences of 21st century attitudes to consent? So often it is people from minority groups who lead change, often at great personal cost.


I think LGBTQ+ communities around the world are involved in developing useful, appropriate, gentle, radical models of consent. I hope these can be used as a source of much needed research into and understanding of: (legal and lived) of consent, ways of communicating these, how changing methods of communication (from the printing press to snap chat) have influenced / continue to influence ideas of consent, legal consequences (and/versus social consequences) for those (including governments/ institutions and businesses) who act without gaining consent, gendered ideas about consent and “survivorhood”, framing consent outside of the heteropatriarchal context.

Changes in public perceptions of consent (driven by things like the #metoo movement) may go on to influence law. For me, changes in laws  around consent / changes in the interpretation / application  of these laws could have dramatic and largely unexplored consequences (potentially positive and negative) for LGBTQ+ people.

So, “why bother?”. Because, legal and art histories can offer us an alternative lense through which to view contemporary life. Through it we can begin to ask, not just who we might be in the future, but how we might be that future and whose experiences will form and inform this.


Questions / statements cut out of the shawl (based on real conversations I have had) include:

  • “I’m only gay on Instagram”

  • " I'm on the waiting list for gender reassignment surgery. It'll be 4 years. I'm one of the "lucky ones"."

  • “My image is a portal to my queerness and my humanness. Use it without my consent and you are abusing my right to autonomy”

  • “How can this be a safe queer space? Everyone is taking pictures all the time, I don’t even know where they are going to end up.”

  • “You don’t need to monitor my diversity in order to sort out your equality. That information is mine. You don’t need it to know you need to do better”

  • "I had conversion therapy, of course I did, being gay wasn't an option, I thought I was mad." 

  • “He published my dead name and home town and now I’m freaking out. My parents don’t know I’m a drag king. They don’t know I’m trans. They don’t know I’m queer.”

  • “I’m not “out” on Facebook”

  • “Because I’m black and trans they think they can do what they like with that image and I can’t even do anything about it, but they’re making money off of that. I’m an artist. That image's mine. That money’s mine”

  • "My consent as a queer, disabled sex worker is valid. My body, my fucking choice."


Sarah Li Bio:

Sarah Li is an interdisciplinary artist who works in sound, performance, theatre and music with a focus on worldmaking- creating an idealised alternative for living in or dealing with society. Sarah is  co-founder of the DGA collective, an alternative drag performance group. 

Image Description (ID):


Original art work with a colour photograph in the center of the piece, surrounded by swirling tendrils of intricately cut paper. The upper layer is dark purple, the backing layer is bright pink. Into the tendrils (in fluid, bendy capital letters) are hand cut phrases like "#MeToo",  "My consent as a queer, disabled sex worker is valid." and  “I’m only gay on Instagram”. The photograph at the center of the work is an interior shot with a very dark background. It is a head and torso portrait of Kitt, a white shaven headed human, starkly lit from above. They are wearing a paper shawl, cut in a similar style (and with similar phrases) to the tendrils in the work. The shawl is draped over one of Kitt's shoulders, covering one side of their chest. The other side of their chest is "open shirt bound" with black tape. Kitt holds a large kitchen knife in one hand, point pressed to their chest. They look upwards, and slightly to one side, in a dramatic, plaintive gesture-a bit like Guido Reni’s 17th century painting Death of Lucretia.

 
Lady-Kitt-magistrates-association-100-ye

LADY KITT

Newcastle Upon Tyne, England

Kitt is a socially engaged maker, researcher and drag king. Kitt’s work is driven by insatiable curiosity about social functions of stuff that gets called art. They use paper crafting, performance and research to create objects, interactions and events. Previous projects include: super-sized origami sculptures (The Bowes Museum, UK), portraits cut from £50 notes (Saatchi Gallery, London, UK) and an international feminist art magazine for and by children (selected for “Social Art Award 2019” book, Germany).

Sarah Li bio: 

Sarah Li is an interdisciplinary artist who works in sound, performance, theatre and music with a focus on worldmaking- creating an idealised alternative for living in or dealing with society. Sarah is  co-founder of the DGA collective, an alternative drag performance group.

 

INTERVIEW

We had a short chat with Kitt to get to know them better

What was the beginning of your creative journey?


I always felt like art was for me, and it was always a massive part of my life. There was definitely a moment when I was about 14 or 15 and I went to see an exhibition at a museum where contemporary artists have been asked to come and make work in response to the permanent collection of the museum. I remember going to see that exhibition ad thinking “Oh wow, yes! This is what I would love to do”. And then last year I got commissioned by that museum to do the same thing I saw all those years ago! It’s such an amazing experience. I could never imagine that something like that could ever happen in my life.


Do you remember what it was that moved you so deeply?


I think it was the humanness of the work and the contemporary nature of the installations. Seeing these works in the really old context suddenly gave me all this insight into the humanness and sociability of those old objects. I always liked them, but it was something about the contrast of old and new that really turned on a light in me. It allowed me to experience the old objects in a much more visceral way and feel them. I could imagine the people, the situations they were in. 


What stimulates you creatively? What inspires you?


I go on a lot of walks, pretty much every day I go on a walk. It’s not just something I do that feeds my practice, it also IS my practice in some ways. A lot of really important thinking happens in that time. Often I use that time to sift through things I had a strong emotional reaction to. Is there something creative going on? Does it relate to something I’m already doing? Can it be teased out into something new? That combination walking and thinking is where I gather experiences and then work through them. 


I am also very inspired by other people as I work with other people a lot, both artists and not. Other people’s reactions to things and thoughts about subjects that I might have been interested in for a long time are very informative. 


If you are working with people who are not artists - are they specialists in an area you want to know more about or is it an audience participation practice?


It really varies and I'm hesitant to put titles on those relationships because it feels hierarchical and I’m uncomfortable with that. I’ll give some examples:


I was an artist-in-residence at a community centre, so I worked with the staff, volunteers and the people who use the community centre. We created a manifesto called “The Making Manifesto” for that venue, that was a drawn and a written document. We then worked with a composer, so it also became a sung document. That’s an example of working with lots of different people who aren’t professional artists. 


At the moment I am working alongside a feminist academic at Newcastle University and a burlesque dancer and the three of us are working together on a project about consent. 


I would call all of the people that I’ve worked alongside in both of those examples co-authors of the work even though the nature of the projects is different and the ways in which we collaborated were quite different. 


What is it that draws you to working with people?


It’s a really simple answer - I just love people and I'm really fascinated by human interaction in all its various forms. I always have been and I can’t really imagine making stuff without other people being involved in some way. I’m interested in sociability and socialness of creativity - what do we as a society gain from that, what do we gain from collaborating and working on things together. 


How do you find your collaborators and get them onboard?


It really varies. People know that this is how I work, so I get approached by individuals or groups who want to collaborate. That’s where the walking comes in - I would take that idea on a walk and see what we could do with it, where it could go. Sometimes I meet people that I really want to work with, but I’m not sure what we could work on together. So some collaborations come about like that, and sometimes that takes years for an appropriate project or idea to come up. 


Some of my practice includes walking together, it allows us to communicate in a very different way than we would usually do, and have a much more dynamic conversation. We do a listening workshop first, and we all agree to treat the walk respectfully and seriously. 


Do you have a preference for any one method of working or a medium?


The way I see my practice is that social engagement is THE medium and all the other stuff is tools in my box that are appropriate for that setting. I’m very fluid with mediums and I always like to keep the options open. I’m really into the projects being useful, so it's crucial to let the medium emerge organically.

 

See more of Lady Kitt's work

 

©2020 Magistrates Association. Registered Charity (No. 216066). Artwork copyright of the artists.

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