BUZZ CULTURE: RHIANNON LOWE | ART PREVIEW
“We have no sex and we’re very much against it.” So said Russian woman Lyudmila Ivanova, after an American commented on the sexualised content of many American TV commercials. The conversation took place in 1986 as part of a perestroika-era televised conference between two studio audiences in the USA and the USSR. A series of these conferences, known as the Space Bridges, were aimed at reducing prejudices and improving the understanding of cultural differences between the countries. “We have love instead,” Ivanova continued, but her words were drowned out by laughter in the Russian TV studio.
In 1980s America the term ‘gay panic defence’ was used to legitimise and justify violent homophobic attacks on the LGBT community. It enabled defendants to allege that same-sex advances were so offensive to them that they were provoked into reacting with diminished responsibility. In her delayed installation show Cekca Het: Trans Panic, Cardiff-based artist Rhiannon Lowe asks just who is in danger. She reflects on the horror, trepidation and delight of her lived experience.
Cekca Het started as a residency at g39, a creative community and Cardiff gallery where Lowe is on the Freelands artist fellowship programme, and is grant funded by Arts Council Wales. Examining how sensationalised media attention forces important conversations to be faded, her work rails against how the voices and lives of trans people are also being silenced. Part-inspired by the Soviet attempt at perestroika, Lowe strikes a match for inclusion, welcoming the visitor as if at a music gig.
Introducing a band, film, dramatic billboards, objects of desire, teenage memories, embroidery and costume (the latter by Abi Hubbard) she shakes, stirs and amuses. An intimate yet uneasy space of noise, lively performance, drinks and conversation is created. Lowe suggests the road to acceptance of difference involves creating opportunities to learn from each other more. Only after listening can the right questions be asked so communities reach a better understanding. Expect to be both sonically and visually surprised.
Rhiannon Lowe, Cekca Het: Trans Panic, Mission Gallery , Swansea, Fri 16 July-Sat 28 Aug. Admission: free. Info: 01792 652016 / here
words PATRICK DRISCALL
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