Queer Perspectives

Event Details

Luciana Demichelis | Miles Rozel + Sara Hartel | Paul Sammut |

salal syndicate (Kieran Cudlip + Umulkhayr Mohamed) | Scarlett Wang

Preview: Friday 31st May 7pm

Exhibition continues until Saturday 6th July

Open: Weds – Sat 11am – 7pm

elysium gallery are the custodians of a building which has historic significance in terms of the LGBTQ+ nightlife scene in Swansea. Having been described as a ‘city mourning the loss of its gay culture’ the number of exclusive LGBTQ+ spaces in Swansea has fallen. The proposition of a Queer Space exhibition has come about in response to this but also aims to support queer visual artists in Wales and beyond.

The term queer space fluctuates between two contested concepts ‘queer’ and ‘space’.

Fundamentally, queer spaces are ones of safety, allowing queer people to embrace their authentic selves, offering a space of empowerment and resistance against mainstream norms. For many, the term may be synonymous with queer nightlife but that denies the myriad of spaces that perhaps fall under this blanket term. For example, these spaces may be architectural, virtual, personal, historical, or imagined. Queer spaces, also have potential to be political in and by their existence and practice.

Perhaps not having a singular definition is part of the point, the term remains transient, open and amorphous.

We invited artists to submit a proposal outlining how they would develop work in response to the theme of queer space. The artists were chosen from the call-out by our panel of selectors Rhiannon Lowe, Cerian Hedd, Dafydd Williams and Sahar Saki.

The artists:

Luciana Demichelis

Luciana Demichelis (Ensenada, 1992) / Nonbinary photographer, born and raised in Argentina. Selected as one of the ‘15 most promising emerging photographers from across the world’ compiled by British Journal of Photography ‘Ones to Watch’ 2023.

They investigate Latin American imaginary, rituals, identities, and nightlife. They used representation and fiction to tell stories, understood as a tool for artistic construction that allows us to think critically about the role played by the media in the construction of reality.

Sara Hartel

Sara Hartel is a theatre maker with a keen interest in mixing art forms. They merge performance with life gaming in what they call game theatre. One example is “Strike Limited!” a production that was part of Volcano Theatre’s “The Shape of Things to Come”. In it the audience was incited to riot against malicious management which ended in a big, cooked spaghetti fight. They have developed “A Hero’s Work”, an alternative reality game for the wellbeing of health- and social care workers, commissioned by Cultrual Cwtch (https://culturalcwtsh.wales/heros-work). And created a murder mystery hidden inside a video trail with year 7 and 8 students (you could access videos by finding QR codes placed around a school in Newport).

Miles Rozel (he/they), aka. GUNK

Miles Rozel (he/they), aka. GUNK, is an award-winning illustrator who creates bold, punky, mixed-media illustrations in both still and moving image. Just like we are socially sanctioned from letting the snot drip from our noses, we’re taught to contain the messier parts of the human condition. Miles’ work invites us to embrace the wobbly bits of our brains and bodies. His projects are socially engaged and focus on supporting, celebrating, and educating, especially in relation to marginalised communities.

Miles and Sara

Miles and Sara first met when Sara voiced one of the characters in Miles’s animated short film “Education For Equality – Gender Identity Terminology”. Since then, Miles has become Sara’s go to “design guy” to create posters, flyers and banners for their theatre projects. For the Queer Space Exhibition, they are collaborating to create a choose your own adventure installation exploring ownership over your body. Told through the lens of travelling through an airport, it explores parallels between belonging as a trans person and as a foreigner. After all: a trans body itself is a queer space that many systems don’t allow you to inhabit.

Paul Sammut

Paul Sammut is an artist and curator whose practice takes a research-based, affirmative approach with a focus on narrative forms, marginalised cultures and archival practices. Sammut has worked collaboratively as P.A.S.T. Projects with curator Alexandra Terry; with the queer publishing collective Strange Perfume, and from 2012 to 2017 ran the DIY queer project space White Cubicle. Recent projects include curating Comic Velocity: HIV & AIDS in Comics for Visual AIDS, NYC (2019–2021); contributing to Queer Art(ists) Now, Space Station Sixty-Five, London (2022); Blank Space artist in residence, B Arts, Stoke-on-Trent (2023); editing That Fire Over There by Prem Sahib (Book Works, 2023) and exhibiting in the inaugural Malta Biennale (3/03–31/05, 2024).

The new works Sammut has developed for Queer Perspectives lean into their practice of unearthing minority histories in an effort to provide ballast for minoritized communities through visibility and conceptualization. Initiated during conversations with a medium about the guidance of a queer Maltese ancestor, these new works reach back into the artist’s diasporic British/Maltese heritage in an attempt to locate and begin to reform moments of queer Maltese history that connect to the artist’s present.

salal syndicate (Kieran Cudlip + Umulkhayr Mohamed)

Umulkhayr Mohamed (they/he/she) is a Welsh Somali artist, writer, and curator. Who produces work under the alias, Aisha Ajnabi, their ‘art other’. Her artistic practice involves primarily sound, installation, and performance work that explores the tension present between enjoying the act of wandering between emancipatory temporalities and a functional need to position oneself in the now. His art is the place where they are able to join the practicing of a spirituality rooted in animism and ancestral honouring with a politic grounded in solidarity and liberation. She sees their practice as doing the work of eroding the borders between beings to reveal the wholeness that lies beneath.

Kieran Cudlip (they/them) is a Cardiff-based Northeast English visual artist. The core of their creative journey lies a fervent commitment to producing work that stands as a provocative, playful, and propagandistic force. Their artistic expression is not just a visual endeavor; it is a political statement, a deliberate act to challenge the status quo. This intention is deeply rooted in a broad-spectrum liberatory politic, a belief system that permeates every facet of my creative process. As they reject the notion of a disconnected practice, insisting that their art must authentically emanate from and be driven by my core beliefs.

Umulkhayr Mohamed and Kieran Cudlip formed salal syndicate in 2024, as a commitment to deepening their  shared radical queer politic. ‘Salal’ is a Somali word meaning buoy, picked for the poetic inference of the intention for the work of the syndicate to be anchored in the present and act as an aid to navigate toward more liberatory futures.

While salal syndicate is a collaborative multidisciplinary project, whose core members are Umulkhayr and Kieran, an honouring of non-hierarchical, multi-authorship of work is central to the way the syndicate functions, and as such the syndicate membership isn’t static, but rather responsive to each body of work.

As a part of Queer Perspectives salal syndicate have been commissioned to create a pair of photographic installations, one is a domestic scene, the other is a public space. Both a staged presentation of real Welsh queer life, with the staged nature of the photographs playing off of the inherent performativity that comes with using the physical presentation of our bodies to find each other as queer people. These installations are an active recovery of queerness from being contained to spaces that ask us to act as consumers as a prerequisite to gaining access to community and self-expression, and present how queering of spaces can act as a creatively consumptive force that centres liberation.

Scarlett Wang

Scarlett Wang, born in 2002 in Beijing, is a Central Saint Martins graduate with a BA in Performance Art. Renowned for visually arresting creations, Scarlett draws inspiration from Chinese and Asian culture, shamanism, and personal experiences as a queer woman.

Specialising in a diverse range of mixed media, including video, performance, photography, music, and installation, Scarlett’s artistic repertoire reflects a multifaceted exploration of storytelling. Incorporating elements such as shamanistic rituals, Chinese customs and folklore, Japanese Butoh dance, and Noh Opera, their work transcends cultural boundaries.

Through this fusion of culture and mediums, Scarlett constructs narratives that go beyond the tangible, creating a dreamy memory in the ethereal space of the “not yet there.

Scarletts performance piece for the exhibition ’Bodhisattva Melt’ is a visually striking performance that intricately weaves together Nuo Opera, the Guanyin Bodhisattva, and the queer life experience.

Inspired by the evolving identity of Guanyin, historically depicted as male but later transformed into a more feminine figure, the performance draws parallels with the fluidity of queer identity.

The set involves creating white chocolate face masks with traditional Nuo Opera-style queer makeup, symbolizing the changing nature of identity. The performer, adorned in sexy red lingerie with draped white fabric, navigates the gallery space like a ghost, interacting with the audience. The white chocolate Guanyin mask gradually melts during this journey, representing the fluidity and transformation of self.

Top Left to Bottom Right: Scarlett Wang, Paul Sammut, Luciana Demichelis, Sara Hartel and Miles Rozel, Kieran Cudlip and Umulkhayr Mohamed

Main Image: Kieran Cudlip and Umulkhayr Mohamed