‘…consider how the arts and contemporary theory structure “the commons” anew: how the commons becomes both a goal and a trope in post-millennial art and cultural theory.’ (Amy J. Elias)
The idea of The Common is both ancient and innovative, and our group discussion initially focused on sharing resources with the community, and the initial idea was to make a community book corner. This is a very popular project in China, and I can see book corners in many parks, communities, secondary schools and even orphanages, and I was impressed by it because in my primary school we had a book corner in our classroom, where students could place their unused books in a common area for the public to exchange resources for a sustainable reading environment. However, when developing the plan, the group members realised that we needed to give it intrinsic meaning. The function of the book corner is to create a logical space for more people to read, so can this common have another function by abandoning the aspect of reading? My first thought was a haven, as we all know, in this diverse society where we have many unique personalities and orientations. And where I come from, due to certain factors, groups like Queer are not usually widely recognised or even attacked, their activities are usually underground and it can be a luxury for them to have a common community, so our group is like planning a common community for queer, the background is in China, which is definitely very uplifting.
During the talk about queer groups, I suddenly remembered an article I had read in a Chinese art magazine vision youth vision in 2019 about the culture of queer in the Naples region of Italy, where the members of the gay group would perform a ritual like role-playing, with the BOTTOM side of the couple playing the role of the mother and the other family members setting up the delivery room, playing the role of the doctor and the nurse, and preparing a doll as the newborn. I think this is not only a cultural but also a performance art or artistic expression, and the idea of creating a community of queer artists was born. This is where the idea of creating a community of queer artists comes into play.
We researched some data on the survival and acceptance of the queer population in China.
With regard to acceptance, only the teachers’ group has a relatively high level of acceptance of sexual minorities. Sexual minorities have difficulties in employment, with a high proportion of self-employment, and the type and friendliness of their employment is highest in associations/foundations; the working environment is not friendly; and freedom of gender expression is low. In the school environment, the data show that transgender groups have high dropout rates; very high rates of school violence during school, including high rates of verbal violence and more pronounced rates of isolation and exclusion than in the general population; and higher rates of depression as a result of experiences of school violence. In terms of mental health, depression is prevalent; anxiety is prevalent; high risk of self-harm and suicide; and counselling is relatively rare, with counsellors’ lack of understanding of the reality of queer and transgender dilemmas being the most significant reasons.
And in the final research on policy needs, 55% of the respondents’ needs were to eliminate social discrimination against transgender people. This reinforces the need for us to create a queer community, which is rare in China. We think the art community is a good direction to take, because the public is relatively more inclusive of art, and most people still believe that art comes from life and is above life, so starting with art is a good way to increase public acceptance.
And our common community is not just about the queer community, but also about the queer spirit. Due to changes in the social environment, the development of queer art in China has taken on a different shape at different times. In the past, due to social and traditional factors, the social reality in China was very different from that in the West, and the spread of queer art in China was very limited, and artists did not ‘go out on a limb’ to promote queer art. Nowadays, however, with an increasingly open social climate and the convergence of Western thinking, young artists have begun to express kool-aid in their own way, challenging the heteronormative system and heteronormative hegemony of mainstream culture and aiming to break out of the prison of repression of human freedom of choice. In the realities of contemporary art, kool-aid as a subject matter, as a visible part of creation, has not yet developed a representation, but is still very much in its infancy and scattered. It’s not mainstream, it’s just slowly coming up from the underground. As an artist, it does not want to be classified as a category. It is developing as a mother theme. The issues we want to focus on are broader, and it will become richer as a section, but at the moment, it is far from representative.
It is easy to be labelled as a cool artist and to fall into the confines of a creative identity. However, many young artists believe that there is no necessary relationship between an artist’s personal identity and the creation of art. Just as doctors have different scalpels, so we should use different methodologies when analysing different works of art. The cool theory does not apply to all works of art, and the work created by a cool artist is not necessarily cool art; whether it is cool art or not depends on the relationship between the work itself and the artist’s identity. What is more, it is worth exploring whether the language of ‘cool’ art may have become some kind of opportunistic ‘shortcut’, used by many straight artists at will, in order to break through the ‘system’, It has been used by many straight artists to break through the ‘system’ and deliberately ‘marginalise’ them in order to be ‘different’. In Double Fly Art Centre’s 2012 work Double Fly Saves the World, viewers can see several young men in masks and underwear frolicking on a large hotel bed, role-playing in a playful atmosphere and assuming overlapping sexual positions.
This curious work has nothing to do with cool art or the social group it represents, it is just a signal of a break with tradition, an attempt to challenge authority through this superficial copy.
In fact, the queer crowd is only a break with the inherent concept of human beings, and the exclusion of the system may not only be for queers, but for all the so-called unique ideas that want to break free, whether they are sexual minorities or not, whether they are LGBT or not, we envisage the art common to create a platform for them, in which any people or artists with innovative ideas can express themselves, release themselves, communicate with each other or find themselves. I think this has a very important social significance.