in plain sight – Adrienne Crossman

As a queer individual assigned female at birth who came of age in the mid 2000s, I am often negotiating my identity as both queer / non-binary and as a lesbian woman. In my view, these fractured identities seem both at odds with one another yet complementary.

I employ the term queer to connote what is odd, strange, out of place, as well as that which exists outside of heterosexuality. I view queerness as existing on a spectrum that rejects the hard-edged hetero/homo duality, yet acknowledges work done by the gay and lesbian liberation movement.

This fracture informs the work of in plain sight as the exhibition charts my personal queer history and shifting identity from childhood to adolescence into early adulthood and the present. Many of the pieces have overt references to well-known pop-culture icons, objects, and media that helped to shape my understanding of and feelings toward queer and lesbian identity.

I am exploring queerness as a structure of feeling through the anti-linear/anti-hierarchical nature of the spectrum. My use of the spectrum both literally and metaphorically stems from my seeking out of alternatives to binary categories (male/female, virtual/physical, synthetic/real).

By exploring the queer affect that exists within the spaces in between, I hope to challenge the power these categories hold and to explore the tensions and possibilities that exist outside of oppressive categorical binary structures. I am interested in how non-human and non-binary characters in media and toys aimed at children may begin to contribute to the space between dominant gender categories; the imaginary worlds they inhabit are figured as windows into a queer dimension, a new queer consciousness and way of being.

I view the non-human as an alternative model of queer embodiment present in the characters of SpongeBob and the Teletubbies, as well as relational artifacts1 such as the Hatchimal and Furby.

In using these pop references as material, I am creating queer interventions through their re-contextualizing and defamiliarization in order to make visible (read: outing) their inherent strangeness. How do queer bodies disorient dominant ideologies and normative ways of thinking? Can the un-oppressed freedom of these queer non-human characters open up and unsettle the strict gender ideals imposed upon human identities?

1. Coined by Sherry Turkle, also known as sociable robots.

All photos are credited to Adrienne Crossman.

Adrienne Crossman is an artist, educator and curator working and living in Windsor, Ontario. She holds a BFA in Integrated Media and a Minor in Digital and Media Studies from OCAD University. She has completed residencies in Syracuse, NY, Montréal, Windsor, and Artscape Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands. Her practice involves the exploration of non-normative and non-binary objects, characters and spaces, with a specific interest in queer potentialities within the non-human. Crossman creates queer interventions through the manipulation of digital media and popular culture, the re-contextualization of often-overlooked objects and artifacts, and by locating queer sensibilities in the everyday. Her curatorial practice involves a strong emphasis on fostering community within the digital new media art world and bridging the gap between virtual and physical space. Adrienne is currently an MFA candidate in Studio Arts at the University of Windsor. @fakechildhood