Arts Watch: Queer New York Comes to Abrons Arts Center

Image: photo_quintche Marlene Monteiro Freitas “Quintche” Photo: João Figueira

An international arts festival is quite an endeavor for any organization. A queer international arts festival is ambitious. This week, in keeping with its motto to “serve as an intersection of cultural engagement for local, national, and international audiences and art-workers,” Abrons Arts Center has partnered with curators Zvonimir Dobrović, artistic director of Europe’s Queer Zagreb and independent curator André von Ah, to present the first installment of Queer New York International Arts Festival (QNYI).

According to Dobrović and von Ah, who conceived the idea for the festival, QNYI promises “to dispel preconceived and stereotyped notions of ‘queer,’ and provide a platform for expanding the discourse about artistic practices.” The line-up features a smorgasbord of queer work from an exciting group of internationally recognized and acclaimed artists from Europe, Asia, South America and the U.S.—with U.S. premieres by Italian companies Ricci/Forte and Plumes dans la tete, Tadasu Takamine from Japan, and Marlene Freitas from Cape Verde, to name a few.

In addition to performances, a series of discussions and public programs organized by Andy Horwitz and Jeremy M. Barker of Culturebot.org, and OUT magazine’s editor-in-chief, Aaron Hicklin, will take place throughout the festival. Dates and locations for these events can be found at www.queerny.orgQNYI also coincides with LaMaMa’s presentation of queer art during its 50th anniversary season.

It’s fitting that Dobrović and von Ah have chosen the LES’s Abrons as the festival’s hub, (additional events will be presented at The Invisible Dog Art Center and The Impossible Project). After all, some say that ‘queer theater’ started downtown in the ’60s and ’70s in spaces like La MaMa, Judson Memorial Church and the legendary Caffe Cino, with pioneers Jack Smith, John Vaccaro and Charles Ludlam leading the way (and continuing on at The WOW Café, Dixon Place and PS 122). Hopefully, QNYI will surprise us with a new set of voices from the next generation of queer theater pioneers.