Phaidon Contemporary Artist Series
Text by Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jeannine Tang, and Lanka Tattersall
Born 1970, Baltimore. Lives and works in New York City.
Echo, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Tanya Leighton, Berlin (forthcoming)
If They Should Ask, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, The Common Guild, Glasgow
In My Little Corner of the World, Anyone Would Love You, Studio Voltaire, London
Nothing Will Be As Before, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
Artists for Studio Voltaire, Studio Voltaire, London
Department of Contemporary Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota
I can call this progress to halt, LACE, Los Angeles
Change of State, Essex Street, New York
The Revolution Will Not Be Gray, Aspen Art Museum, Colorado
Curators’ Series #9. Way of Living (curated by Arcadia Missa), David Roberts Art Foundation, London
Revolutionary Love: I am Your Worst Fear, I am Your Best Fantasy
For ‘Revolutionary Love: I am Your Worst Fear, I am Your Best Fantasy’, Sharon Hayes gathered 100 people in the summer of 2008 at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions to read a text in unison addressing political desire and romantic love as a two-part commission for Creative Time’s summer-long, national public art initiative ‘Democracy in America: The National Campaign’, curated by Nato Thompson.
Conflating grassroots political activism, performance art, queer theory, and national politics, Hayes’ two large-scale, public performances included speakers drawn from the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community in each city who became the medium of her work by reciting the text written by Hayes. The ten to twenty minute texts were read three times over the course of two hours.
Drawing on both the history of the Gay Liberation movement, which forged a new and deep relationship between love and politics, and the current political moment, in which the war figures as a central element in the Presidential campaign, this performance challenged simplistic oppositions between love and war. Specifically, Hayes is interested in the militaristic aspect of groups that operated at the beginning of the gay rights movement, many of whom assumed aggressive, reactionary stances to culture at large. Where the classic slogan says, “Make love not war,” Hayes references the Stonewall-era Gay Liberation movement and their chant, “An army of lovers cannot lose.”
These performances are intended to be spectacles, and are designed to mirror the spectacular nature of the National Conventions. Reacting against the tendency of groups to polarize feelings about homosexuality for political gain, Hayes describes these performances as personal addresses to the power structure, or a group of people speaking their hearts as one.