Queer Arts Festival artistic director SD Holman selects highlights

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      SD Holman, artistic director of the Queer Arts Festival, has a hard time picking favourites.

      “I’m excited about the whole festival. How could I ever choose? They’re all my favourite children,” they enthuse during a phone interview with the Georgia Straight.

      (Holman identifies as a “gender anarchist” and uses a mixture of pronouns. For single pronoun usage, Holman prefers “they”.)

      It’s been 10 years since the Queer Arts Festival began in Vancouver, but it hasn’t lost any of its provocativeness or bite.

      “I don’t expect everyone to like it, or even understand it,” Holman says. The festival aims to “to keep pushing at the…hegemonic society. To keep supporting, to be visible. Making great work and supporting artists.”

      DECADEnce, the festival’s 10th incarnation, celebrates the anniversary with a lavish mix of events—including films, erotic literary readings, theatre, music, and curated art.

      Holman lists the annual curated arts show as a must-see, considering it’s an annual staple that the festival is renowned for. But they say there’s plenty more beyond that.

      “I’m really excited about [Indigenous operatic tenor] Jeremy Dutcher…we’ve been trying to get him for a little while,” Holman says, reeling off shows almost without stopping. “Barry Truax’s Skin and Metal, a 30-year retrospective [of Traux’s work], really excited about that one too, which is musical theatre. Prox:imity Re:mix [queer youth performance workshops run by MACHiNENOiSY] has come back to us, which is lovely. They started with us…we produced that program when they first started it and then they’ve travelled around, and they’re back this year.”

      Prox:imity Re:mix, offering queer youth performance workshops run by the MACHiNENOiSY company, is back on the program of the Queer Arts Festival.

      But the signature piece this year is Camera Obscura (hungry ghosts), a co-production with the frank theatre company that reimagines the early life of local artist Paul Wong. Wong is something of a familiar face around the local queer arts scene.

      “I’m really excited about it,” Holman says. “Paul Wong...has been with us [QAF] for a while. He’s been curating, he’s been a participating artist, and this year we’re doing Camera Obscura. So kind of circling around.”

      They also extol the joys of getting to work with other organizations, like the frank theatre, when organizing the QAF programming.

      “Partnering in doing these kinds of things is really important to me because sometimes we really work in our own silos…. We’re all so busy trying to make something happen, but we’re stronger together.”

      At the end of our chat, Holman pauses before conceding: “I don’t have a favourite child, but those are kind of my favourite children.”

      The Queer Arts Festival runs at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre from Saturday (June 16) to June 27.