Image Caption: a "works in process" image of "Chosen Family" taken on a worktable in my Greenpoint in January, 2021. The book in this image is "Peculiar Attunements" written by my friend Roger Mathew Grant and published by Fordham University Press in 2020. This book served as a key inspiration in indeating this series of work.


 

CHOSEN FAMILY ON ARTFARE

New monochrome drawings by Christopher Stout, based on a playlist compiled by the artist featuring sound art by Queer composers
Exhibition Dates: April 28August 13, 2021 (EXTENSION)

Artfare is pleased to present Chosen Family, a drawing solo by Queer abstract reductivist painter Christopher Stout. Queer abstraction is activist work about the Queer experience that does not employ representation of the human figure. Stout’s work surrounds us with the notions of radical joy and a vision of Queerness as found in our imaginations.

Each of these new drawings is based on a musical piece written by a Queer experimental composer.

Here is an exhibition statement in the artists own words,

“I want to begin with an acknowledgement of Roger Mathew Grant, whose book, “Peculiar Attunements” has been beautifully essential in the ideation of this project.

https://www.fordhampress.com/9780823287741/peculiar-attunements/

I’m very keen on my new relationship with Artfare; and to celebrate our partnership, I’ve drawn a series of 11 new monochromes titled, “Chosen Family.”

To articulate about the work, I wanted to utilize these monochrome drawings to formally highlight a working method of listening to sound art by Queer composers in my Brooklyn art studio. I have an extensive library of sound art from Queer composers containing music spanning from the late 1960’s through sound art being made today. Conceptually, I find Queer sound art and Queer abstraction to possess many congruencies.

For each drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece by a Queer composer who I consider a cherished and esteemed member of my art chosen family. During the listening session, I drew a monochrome formed by the music. We could refer to these monochromes as conversations or mediations, and they allow me to better articulate my process as a Queer abstract painter.

In respect and gratitude for these composers, I will be donating 20% from the sales of these drawings to support the Ali Forney Center, an organization with a mission to protect LGBTQ youths from the harms of homelessness.

Learn more about the Ali Forney Center at https://www.aliforneycenter.org/

Thank you for letting me share my work with you.”

Links with more information on this exhibition:

  1. http://christopherstout.com/art-chosen-family-artfare.html
  2. https://www.artfare.com/christopher-stout
 
 

"Chosen Family" is a new series of monochrome drawings, wherein to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed member of my art chosen family.

Drawing 001 from this series is based on the piece, “Femenine,” written by Julius Eastman in 1974.

Eastman penned these words in the description of his personhood, “What I am trying to achieve is to be what I am to the fullest—Black to the fullest, a musician to the fullest, and a homosexual to the fullest. It is important that I learn how to be, by that I mean accept everything about me.”
There is such a profound audacity in these words that belies further explanation. I’ve written them in charcoal on the wall of my art studio. I hope that you will consider forging your own conversation with them and framing them within your own authenticity.

 
 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed member of my art chosen family.

Drawing 002 from this series is based on the piece, “Alien Bog,” written by Pauline Oliveros in 1967.

A sound art pioneer whose life and work is credited with providing awareness of both feminist and Queer theory, Oliveros once noted during an interview, “I am also interested in music expanding consciousness. By expanding consciousness, I mean that old patterns can be replaced with new ones.” I will share here that the title of my 2018 solo painting exhibition, “Sonic Opera” was a derivation of Oliveros’ 1969 sound work series, “Sonic Mediations.”

I hope that you will consider forging your own discovery with the work of Oliveros as a way of evolving and reconsidering your own relationship with listening and with sound. An excellent articulation of her career can be found by reading the book, “Sounding Out: Pauline Oliveros and Lesbian Musicality,” written by Martha Mockus, and published by Routledge Press in 2007.

 
 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed member of my art chosen family.

Drawing 003 from this series is based on the piece, “Underground,” written by PussyVision in 2018.

While the first two drawings in this series reference composers whose work marks the origins of experimental sound art, this drawing stems from a noise artist making work in the here and now… here is a quote from their bio, “PussyVision is a genderqueer witch house producer, performance artist, and noise musician based out of Western Mass. who uses harsh electronics, heavy beats, and haunted vocals to evoke brutally honest and unsettlingly violent images of trauma, resilience and revenge. PussyVision builds dynamic tracks live on stage using analog synths, a MPC 1000, and loop pedals. Her vocals erratically oscillate between ethereal singing, blood-curdling screams, childlike chanting, and guttural howls with lyrics that speak intimately to anxiety, dissociation, violent fantasies, and the sweetness in regaining power post-trauma.”

When I feel creative block in my studio, sometimes I push the furniture to the wall and put on Pussyvision’s album Replicate:// and lie on the floor and make little movement pieces with my body until the feeling passes.

I specifically respond to this track from the album, and how at the midpoint the piece abruptly becomes something else. If you look at my work, it is literally a choppy drawing rendered on top of a smooth one.

I would invite you to consider listening to their work with your eyes closed and your limbs fluid while examining your own reconciliation with a feeling of sweetness, found from regaining your power post-trauma.

 
 
Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 004 from this series is based on the piece, “Saunter,” written by Arca from her eponymously named album in 2017.

Arca is an artist who has been revered and avidly followed by both the contemporary art and fashion macrocosms before and during her transition.
 
And also, Arca is an artist who has been revered and avidly followed by both the contemporary art and fashion macrocosms as her work has become in some sense a euphoric monument reflecting her transition.

Sometimes I find it easier to talk about what an artist’s work represents to me if some time has passed, because I’ve had the ability to digest it a bit. I find a heavy comfort in Arca’s work; however, I want to contain my comments to express that she is an essential part of this series, and here is something that she recently said that I find curious,

“What I’m thinking about right now is what standing out means and what wanting to feel invisible means, because we all almost need that at certain points. Both of them are existential crises—if you blend in too much, what makes you different from anyone else? Is my individual spirit real? And if you stand out too much, you’re too much of a freak, so you’ll never belong.”
 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 005 from this series is based on the piece, “Mothertongue: III. Hress,” written by Nico Muhly album in 2008.

I experience so many auditory relationships between the experimental works of Nico Muhly and other composers on this list. I would call out Pauline Oliveros, and certainly also Julius Eastman. I have made playlists that intertwine Muhly’s early piano compositions from “Speaks Volumes” and “Mothertongue” with Eastman’s “Gay Guerrilla” and “Feminine,” and the work unites in a relationship with an akin and fervid dissonance.

 

 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 006 from this series is based on the piece, “Noises I Make Without Using my Vocal Cords,” written by Natalie Braginsky in 2015.

I would like to share about an article published in May 2018 in VAN Magazine, which highlights both Natalie Braginsky and this piece of sound art:

“Another more abstract approach to the complicated and messy feelings that many trans people have about voices is simply to avoid using them—thus the title of Natalie Braginsky’s 'noises i made without using my vocal cords' (2015). When Braginsky transitioned, she abruptly shifted from writing instrumental music to working primarily with electronics. She attributes her use of abrasive noise to the anger she felt at the time—a common feeling among trans people confronted with a world that’s not built with us in mind. Beyond that, the title suggests that these sounds are meant to take the place of the human voice—still a kind of personal expression, but one that’s detached from verbal signification and mediated by digital technology. Much of Braginsky’s work deals with ideas of construction and simulation; the URL of her website, for instance, is 'natalie.computer.' And she’s not alone: the idea of the artificial self is an appealing alternative for many trans artists who have been failed by the concept of the 'natural self'—the one that 'Nature' or 'God' or 'Biology' provided at birth."

 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 007 from this series is based on the piece, “Confessional (Give Me Sodomy or Give Me Death),” from the performance album, “Plague Mass,” performed at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, here in New York City by Diamanda Galás in 1990.

Galás frames her work in this manner, “All my work is concerned with mortality and the fear of death and protecting those who might be closer to it than others . . . If you were to look back on my body of work . . . you would see that literally everything has to do with these things: military invasions, the AIDS crisis, mental illness, death.”

Of the eleven pieces of Queer sound art that form the infrastructure for the drawings in this series, “Plague Mass” holds the distinction of my first exposure to Queer performance art. It was also part of my first understanding of AIDS art generation work.

Here is my truth. Living as a Queer man in 2021 is a virtually unrecognizable experience comparative to my process of coming out in 1990, during a time when AIDS was an omnipresent death sentence. I am a survivor of the AIDS holocaust.

As a mourning ritual, I still listen to this album in its entirety, usually around December 01st, which was originally known as Day Without Art, and is now known as World AIDS Day, in remembrance of, and to hold spirit conversations with artists, friends, activists, and lovers I lost to this plague.

 
 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 008 from this series is based on the piece, “Rocky Mountains,” which was part of the score for the movie, “The Shining” by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind in 1980.

I wanted to utilize Wendy Carlos to offer some quick reflections on the intersections and distinctions amongst the words, “queer” and “composer” and “queer composer.”

There are composers on my esteemed list such as Arca or PussyVision who are Queer and whose work is often a form of activism amplifying their Queerness.

There are other composers on my esteemed list such as Muhly or Menzies, who are Queer, and make work about Queer topics, and who might be more understood for their work on non-Queer topics.

Galás is a composer on this list who is not Queer, and who is most assuredly worshipped for making some of the most celebrated and genre-defining work expressing Queer art activism.

There are composers on this list such as Cage who are celebrated for his Queer personhood, and whose work is completely respected for other reasons outside of his Queerness.

And then there is Carlos, a pioneering composer, who eventually felt the need to leave her career, because public obsessions about her gender usurped her ability to be engaged in her work, which to her was about something aside from her Queerness.  

(I find Carlos' work highly additive in enabling my visual art making practice, which I codify with the descriptor, "Queer abstraction.")

With all of this specifically in mind, I must absolutely include Carlos in this series as she fits entirely within the subject criteria; however the quote I’m sharing is not germane to her Queerness or very public coming out story, and I invite you to become (re)familiar and invested with her music, precisely and only because it is exceptional.

 

 
Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 009 and 010 from this series are based on 2 sound art pieces with correlative processes, “Muted Situation #5 Muted Chorus,” by Samson Young in 2016, and “4’33” by John Cage in 1952.

In framing these works, the Cage piece represents a formation of the cannon of compositions with minimalist sound, and the Samson piece could be viewed as a reincarnation of Cage’s process of music.

For “4’33”,” Cage assembles in a space the traditional elements that would encompass a musical performance: musicians, instruments, a venue, and an audience. To accomplish the piece, Cage refutes the usage of the instruments and performers, and the timed piece is accomplished via the noises made by the people inhabiting the room.
 
More than 60 years later, Young has engaged in a similar exercise in his, “Muted Situations” series, and has accomplished his sound outcome by removing the music in a choral performance to focalize on the breath work of the performers.

I feel a sense of gestalt by watching these pieces consecutively, which is my same experience when coupling the piano works of Julius Eastman and Nico Muhly, or the electronic music of Wendy Carlos with Pauline Oliveros.

I am fascinated by the symmetries and correlating variations in these works which I believe is also quite evident in my drawings.

 


Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawings 009 and 010 from this series are based on 2 sound art pieces with correlative processes, “Muted Situation #5 Muted Chorus,” by Samson Young in 2016, and “4’33” by John Cage in 1952.

In framing these works, the Cage piece represents a formation of the cannon of compositions with minimalist sound, and the Samson piece could be viewed as a reincarnation of Cage’s process of music.

For “4’33”,” Cage assembles in a space the traditional elements that would encompass a musical performance: musicians, instruments, a venue, and an audience. To accomplish the piece, Cage refutes the usage of the instruments and performers, and the timed piece is accomplished via the noises made by the people inhabiting the room.
 
More than 60 years later, Young has engaged in a similar exercise in his, “Muted Situations” series, and has accomplished his sound outcome by removing the music in a choral performance to focalize on the breath work of the performers.

I feel a sense of gestalt by watching these pieces consecutively, which is my same experience when coupling the piano works of Julius Eastman and Nico Muhly, or the electronic music of Wendy Carlos with Pauline Oliveros.

I am fascinated by the symmetries and correlating variations in these works which I believe is also quite evident in my drawings.

 

Chosen Family is a new series of monochrome drawings, whereby to achieve each individual drawing, I listened to a loop from a selected piece of music by a Queer experimental composer. I consider the eleven composers referenced in this series to be cherished and esteemed members of my art chosen family.

Drawing 011 from this series is based on the piece, “Flicker Film,” which was part of the album, “Corporeal” by Roarke Menzies in 2016.

“I think of myself as listening together with all the other possible listeners.” – Roarke Menzies

The first time I experienced the work of Menzies live was during a performance at SPRING/BREAK Art Show here in New York.

I have referenced his music previously during artist talks, and it is important to credit him, in the same manner in which I’ve credited the book, “Peculiar Attunements” by Roger Mathew Grant, as being beautifully essential in the ideation of this project.