The exhibition “We Will Not Change Our Show” brings together artists from mostly Central and Eastern Europe who work in a variety of media and elaborate on diverse aspects of queer self-expression. The curatorial position is based on the idea of freedom of speech and artistic expression, assuming that the discussion on queer sensibilities can help us shaking up the exclusionary and discriminatory patriarchal status quo.
The title of the exhibition is a free paraphrase from the American pop icon, Madonna, when referring to the same issue (see the film “Madonna: Truth or Dare”, also known as “In Bed with Madonna”, directed by Alek Keshishian, 1991). Just as we will not change our show, we will not change the way we are according to the prescriptions of the heteronormative society. It does not matter, whether you are queer or straight, young or old, addicted to love, sex, pop culture, philosophy or science – our freedom to speak is your freedom, too.
The show investigates queer art in its current context of Central and Eastern Europe. As the situation of LGBT people was different in each country during socialism, it is still diverse in our region. In some countries, the decriminalization of homosexuality started relatively early, in the 1960s; however, in other parts of CEE same-sex sexual acts have only been legal since the mind-1990s, early 2000s. While the queer community in the Czech Republic is now fighting for the rights to marry and adopt children, queer people in other countries of the former Eastern Bloc experience lack of understanding and tolerance and are still fighting for fundamental rights.
Our goal is not to present a long and exhausting report that covers all the possible aspects of the issue. Rather, the exhibition is an experiment that provides space for the invited artists’ recent interests as well as new ideas, the changing of roles and border-crossings.
On the one hand, we are preoccupied with the use of public space and the possibilities it provides for queer self-expression thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain. While some artists dig deep in the past to collect the missing fragments of history, others look into pop culture, motherhood, queer desire and the formation of identity.
Another group of works in the exhibition investigates what remains hidden from the public and happens secretly in the dark. Secrets also inform about how much freedom we have, however the blurry reality of cruising – presented by these artists – is not just about hiding. An invisible act in the anonymity of a dark room is an act of knowledge production, but what happens in the darkness remains incomprehensible for the outside world. The direction of exclusion thus gets reversed equally as the power relations between majority and minority.