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Louis Fratino & Alex Baczynski-Jenkins : 15 Young LGBTQ Artists Driving Contemporary Art Forward

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Louis Fratino
B. 1993, Annapolis, Maryland. Lives and works in New York City.

Can you tell us about your exhibition, “Come Softly to Me,” at Sikkema Jenkins in New York?

“Come Softly to Me” is a narratively structured exhibition in which I tell myself my own story. I introduce myself through self portraiture and the setting of my story through paintings of New York. It is a series of works depicting the most recent year of my life, and the cast of characters and particular feelings I’ve encountered along the way. My next exhibition will be in Paris at Antoine Levi gallery and will not be paintings. It will be my first sculpture show.

How does the history of modernism influence your paintings?

I paint people I love, and I paint using the vocabulary of paintings I love. So the influence is very straightforward; if I see a painting that sets me on fire, I want to try and make something that feels like that. I make drawings in my sketchbooks, which I use like journals. I also reinterpret paintings directly with my own characters, or work from photographs I have found or taken. The most important and frequent source of inspiration is drawing from memory.

How does memory impact your compositions?

Memory is in a way the actual content of my work. It influences how I stylize the body to emphasize something I may have fixated on. If I fell in love with hair on the back of someone’s neck, or a mole, I will redistribute the shapes of the body to highlight this element, the way a memory does. I think memory is an excellent beautician. So this also plays a role in the way I make work that is both fantastic and autobiographical.
Alex Baczynski-Jenkins
B. 1987, London, United Kingdom. Lives and works in Warsaw and London.

Can you tell us about the work you’re showing at the Venice Biennale, Untitled (Holding Horizon) (2018)? Has the performance changed since its first iteration at Frieze London?

My works are always in process and the choreographies themselves include a level of indeterminacy. Each iteration is different and the works also change and adapt with time, often responding to the specific sites where they are being developed and performed.
I approach queerness as a process, one through which the choreographic framework fluctuates between structure and contingency. In Untitled (Holding Horizon) the sound and lighting are mixed live, as well as the structures that the performers move through. In this process the performers have the agency to use the qualities that we work with to loosen, expand, and contract the structure. This means that both the choreographic vocabularies and the performers’ subjectivity are both very present in the work. This unpredictability allows for intimacy in the way that the work unfolds; their relations and affects leak out into the room and have the potential to become palpable by an audience.

How has LGBTQ nightlife in Warsaw impacted your performances?

I was developing Untitled (Holding Horizon) over the summer in 2018, in the same space that Kem—the queer and feminist collective that I am part of—was throwing a series of parties called “Dragana Bar.” These nights brought together distinct experimental sets of sounds by Warsaw-based DJs, such as Facheroia, Yana, and JŚA. This experience of running the night with the collective had a direct impact on making Untitled (Holding Horizon).
At the time, I was reflecting on the act of moving together, and how sharing pleasure is a mode of queer resistance that can produce a safe space within a hostile environment. It is about queerness as collectivity, togetherness. The dance floor has the potential to be a space where you experience that entanglement of self and other through affect; it is a place where gestures can be charged with queer desire.

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