Queer Arts Festival unveils cosmic 2023 lineup

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      Grab your glitteriest g-suit and prepare for space camp. Queer Arts Festival is shooting for the moon with its 2023 lineup, Queers in Space. 

      The annual visual arts festival runs from June 17 to 28, with the Roundhouse Community Centre serving as a hub for most events. Other exhibitions and performances will take place at SUM Gallery in Chinatown, James Black Gallery on Main Street, and šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square (the Vancouver Art Gallery north plaza).

      Mark Takeshi McGregor, QAF artistic director, said in a statement that the festival “is a call to explore and celebrate the space we occupy, each and every day; to honour our queer elders on whose shoulders we stand; and to celebrate our future, queer trajectories,” 

      The festival kicks off with an art party on June 17 and the official unveiling of bumfuzzled monachopsis: innerspace out in the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall. Curated by multidisciplinary artist Zandi Dandizette, the exhibition asks viewers to “wander the maze of our hearts and open them to the multiplicity of being.” Dandizette also leads a tour of the exhibit on June 24.

      Also open daily at the Roundhouse is an augmented reality experience drawing on Indigiqueer pasts and futures, Cosmic Connections: Queer Indigenous Astronomy. AR artist Preston Buffalo tells stories from the stars that you can experience through your phone. 

      June 18 sees a trilogy of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer events at the Roundhouse put on in conjunction with Talking Stick Festival and Full Circle: First Nations Performance. Acclaimed Oji-Cree writer Joshua Whitehead presents a new fiction anthology Love After The End, with fellow authors; Full Circle will host a Cinq-a-Sept reception with DJs and book signing; and Indigiqueer burlesque collective Virago Nation will round off the night in sexy (adults-only) style. 

      Over at James Black Gallery, the Pride in Art community exhibition will run from June 19 to July 8, featuring artists from the local LGBTQ2S+ community. The opening party runs June 19 from 7pm. 

      And in SUM Gallery, Odera Igbokwe’s New Yams Festival runs from June 22 to July 28. The name, a queer reclamation of an Igbo festival, captures Igbokwe’s intention to mix queer afrofuturism with ancestral rituals through illustrations and paintings.

      Breathe in the Fragrance, Sujit Vaidya’s dance celebration of erotic ritual, will take place on June 23 at the Roundhouse. Combining traditional Indian dance elements with queer horniness, Vaidya and fellow dancers Kiruthika Rathanaswami and Malavika Santhosh will perform with live music to evoke “space for the in-betweenness of things to exist.”

      Moving outdoors, QAF will partner with the Vancouver International Jazz Fest for Ayo Leilani’s Witch Prophet performance. The “Erykah Badu meets Lauryn Hill meets Portishead” singer-songwriter will be rocking šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square for a free public show on June 25.

      Finally, Hymnen an die Nacht: Claude Vivier Retrospective will honour Canada’s queer, cosmic composer Claude Vivier, 40 years after his untimely death in Paris. The musical performance on June 27 will feature the Standing Wave Ensemble, soprano Sarah Jo Kirsch, pianist Rachel Iwaasa, and musical tributes from three composers lighting up the Roundhouse. 

      Queer Arts Festival runs from June 17 to 28 at venues across Vancouver. Early-bird festival passes are available online for $69. Single-day tickets will be available closer to the events.