Don’t Believe the Hype! is a silent looping video projection intended for screening on public surfaces in gay neighbourhoods across Canada. It beckons viewers with sensuous displays of queer public affection paired with scrolling text that both provokes and informs. This site-specific work claims public space for queer intimacy and political imagining at a time when Canadians are being encouraged by both the federal government and LGBT civil society organizations to celebrate the so-called 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality.
Critical of the state mythologies and top down benevolence, this piece demands a more critical interpretation of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s 1969 Criminal Code reform that failed to stop the regular brutality, disregard, police violence, arrests, harassment, firings, and bar and bathhouse raids that continue in the wake of the supposed decriminalization of homosexuality. Whose legacy are we celebrating? Whose lives are disappeared by convenient origin myths? What’s the cost of misremembering? And why have so many gays and lesbians been so eager to embrace a demonstrably false anniversary?
Presented as part of Knot Projections 2019: Imagining Publics, a special public art project by SAW Video Media Art Centre, with support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Related event: Don’t Believe the Hype! [screening + discussion] Ryan Conrad, Tom Hooper, Ummni Khan, and Darrah Teitel
Tuesday, August 20th | 6:30pm-8:30pm | Knot Project Space, 2 Daly Ave., Ottawa
Ryan Conrad is artist, activist, and scholar based in Ottawa. He is currently a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow in the Cinema & Media Studies Program at York University where he is working on a manuscript entitled ‘Radical VIHsion: Canadian AIDS Film & Video.’ Previously he held a postdoctoral fellowship at Carleton University with the AIDS Activist History Project. He earned a PhD from the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Society and Culture at Concordia University and an MFA in interdisciplinary studio arts from the Maine College of Art.
Conrad is the co-founder of Against Equality, a digital archive and publishing collective based in the United States and Canada. He is the editor of the collective’s anthology series that are compiled together in Against Equality: Queer Revolution, Not Mere Inclusion (2014). He has also contributed single-authored and co-authored chapters to several anthologies including: Decolonizing Sexualities: Transnational Perspectives, Critical Interventions (2016), The Gay Agenda (2014), Queering Anarchism (2013), and After Homosexual (2013). His work as a visual, media, and performing artist has exhibited internationally in Europe, Asia, and North America.