Image Caption: an installation view of "Wonderment of Otherness" at Lichtundfire.
 
 

For Immediate Release

Christopher Stout: Wonderment of Otherness at Lichtundfire

Exhibition Dates: September 01 — October 02, 2021
Opening Reception: Wednesday, September 01, 6:00-8:00pm

Gallery Events

Fall Cocktails at Lichtundfire/ LES Gallery Art Night (during Armory Show Week)
Friday, September 10 from 6:00–8:00pm

Artist Talk & Reception
Saturday, September 18 from 4:00–6:00pm

Press Release

Lichtundfire is pleased to present and welcomes all to “Wonderment of Otherness”, an exhibition of new monochrome paintings by New York City-based artist Christopher Stout (pronouns: he/him/they) concerning Queer abstraction. This exhibition marks his/their fourth solo exhibition at Lichtundfire. Stout’s work intends to surround us with the notion of radical joy and a vision of Queerness as found in our imaginations.

In the artist’s own words:

“I would suggest that Queer abstraction might be most easily defined as activist art about the Queer experience that does not employ representation of the human figure. Queer abstraction, along with Black abstraction, Feminist abstraction, and even Arte Povera are 4 distinct types of sociopolitical protest work birthed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which primarily eschew the use of figuration.

In providing additional context, art critic and curator Eric Sutphin theorizes that contemporary artists practicing Queer abstraction, 'are in close dialogue with their forbears, and bring to the milieu of Queer abstraction a new set of social, economic, and political concerns…including a series of questions: What is the relationship between Queerness and formalism? Without explicit political references, how can abstract work transmit the urgency of its content?'

Within the 8 new monochrome paintings that are presented as the “Wonderness of Otherness”, there is an investigation of a specific environment in which the painting references would deploy markers of both Queerness, and also the nature of sociopolitical abstraction.

The works are designated as 'quilt paintings' as the central visual element and topography of the works are textile pieces of Belgian linen and cotton sewn together with wire in a manner akin to quilting. It should be noted that quilting here is not a reference to the AIDS quilt, but rather an extension of the tradition of quilting as a form of political art by marginalized people.

These quilts are stretched on stacks of wooden panels, so that the works retain elements to suggest being textile pieces, and also elements of being sculptures, and also elements of being paintings. This is a reference to the nonbinary.

Another concentration within these works is to express a linear relationship between Queer abstraction and Queer theory. Alongside each painting, I have designated a notable academic text, biography, or resource book documenting a spectrum of Queer ideas and experiences. Some of these books are longtime friends, and some of the more contemporary works were read as part of my research for these paintings.

Whilst these paintings are not designed to illustrate the work of these Queer academics, they do hope to activate a through line, manifesting the shared goals within Queer abstraction.

In evidence of this relationship, I will lean earnestly into the words of Queer Cuban American academic José Esteban Muñoz (1967 – 2013), who penned, 'Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet Queer. We may never touch Queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been Queer, yet Queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is Queerness’s domain.'"

About the Artist

Christopher Stout was born and raised in Maryland and is a New York City-based artist working in Queer abstraction. Stout has shown extensively with Lichtundfire, including multiple group exhibition projects and the solo exhibitions “Come Out 2 Show Them” in April 2017, “Sonic Opera” in May of 2018, and “Standing on the Shoulders of Queer Martyrs and Saints” in October 2019.

Gallery Information

Lichtundfire was established in 2015, with a visual program emphasizing on nonrepresentational, conceptual, and abstract art; especially minimal, color field, geometrical, straight edge, abstract expressionist painting, lyrical abstraction, and process work.

Lichtundfire's gallery director Priska Juschka is originally from Germany, and is known for being part of the first NADA (New Art Dealer’s Alliance) generation from its inception in the early 2000's.
By its exhibitions, Lichtundfire's program is dedicated to developing and nurturing an active, engaged, progressive, and emancipated art community that addresses cultural and social realities as expressed through visual arts.

For more information and images of “Wonderment of Otherness”, please contact Priska Juschka at info@lichtundfire.com, or via telephone 917-675-7835, or visit www.lichtundfire.com

General Gallery Information

Lichtundfire, 175 Rivington Street Storefront (between Clinton & Attorney),
New York, New York 10002, and subway Stop: F/M and/or Essex J/Z
Contact: Priska Juschka, info@lichtundfire.com, Tel. 917.675.7835
Gallery Hours: Tuesday– Saturday, 12 – 6 pm, or by appointment

 
 
An inventory of exhibition paintings and also the Queer academic source materials follows below:
 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 001, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of José Esteban Muñoz

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, navy,
and copper oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 5.75”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia, "The Then and There of Queer Futility" (New York: New York University Press, 2019)

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "Cruising Utopia, The Then and There of Queer Futility" written by José Esteban Muñoz. Here is a notable passage from the text:

“Queerness is not yet here. Queerness is an ideality. Put another way, we are not yet queer. We may never touch queerness, but we can feel it as the warm illumination of a horizon imbued with potentiality. We have never been queer, yet queerness exists for us as an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future. The future is queerness’s domain. Queerness is a structuring and educated mode of desiring that allows us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present. The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalizing rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds, Queerness is a longing that propels us onward, beyond romances for the negative and toiling in the present, Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough, that indeed something is missing. Often we can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the  aesthetic. The aesthetic, especially the queer aesthetic, frequently contains blueprints and schemata of a forward-dawning futurity. Both the ornamental and the quotidian can contain a map of the utopia that is queerness. Turning to the aesthetic in the case of queerness is nothing like an escape from the social realm, insofar as queer aesthetics map future social relations. Queerness is also a performative because it is not simply a being but a doing for and toward the future. Queerness is essentially about the rejection of a here and now and an insistence on potentiality or concrete possibility for another world.”  ― José Esteban Muñoz

 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 002, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Jennifer Finney Boylan

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, Paynes grey and silver oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 36 x 36 x 04”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Various Authors, and Edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves | A Resource for the Transgender Community (New York: Oxford Univ Press, 2014)

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves | A Resource for the Transgender Community" edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth. Here is a notable passage written by Jennifer Finney Boylan from the text:

“Let’s take a look at some of the different ways there are of being trans.

Some of us see ourselves as people born with a unique birth defect, one that can be 'cured' by the intervention of the medical profession, and think of that journey in terms of physical transition.

Some of us see ourselves as people who want to celebrate the fantasy aspects of gender, who want to enjoy the sense of escape and joy and eros that embracing an alter ego sometimes provides.

Some of us see ourselves as people who reject the medical community and who are less interested in winding up at one gender destination or another than in the journey itself, a voyage that may or may not have a clear end point.

Some of us hope to free ourselves from the binary poles of gender, want a personal and political liberation from the tyranny of culturally defined gender markers, and wish to express ourselves as we please, anywhere along the wide spectrum.

Some of us go through medical transition and then assume a new identity, and in so doing—to use the word trans people use—'go stealth,' meshing as seamlessly as possible with society post transition. Sometimes post-op stealth-goers no longer even identify as trans and look back at their days in their former sex in the same way a naturalized citizen might look back at a country in which they were born and then fled.

Some of us see our experience as being best understood through scholarly theory. For some of us, gender theory not only provides us with language for thinking about ourselves; it places our quest for self within the long tradition of philosophical inquiry.

Some of us are still seeking for the right words to describe ourselves, and for the best way to frame the discourse regarding our people. Some of us are not even particularly comfortable with the term “transgender.”

Some of us have found that our sense of self has changed over time. Some of us, to be sure, 'always knew' what we needed and who we needed to be. For others, that sense of identity has emerged only slowly, or morphed over time, or even fluctuated daily like the tides. Some of us don’t have a single word for what we are, for what we feel, or what we need, and view the lack of a single label for our gendered selves as a fortune, not a curse.

With all this wide range of opinion, it’s no wonder men and women who wish to be our allies—not to mention members of the trans community themselves—can find themselves perplexed.

There are so many, many ways of being us.

If we know anything, it’s that trans identity and trans experience are a work in progress, a domain in which the discourse itself is still in a state of evolution and growth.

Which is why, when people ask me, 'How can we help?' I sometimes think the most useful answer may be the one my mother suggested: Let love prevail. Or, to put it another way: Open your heart, and see what happens.”  ― Jennifer Finney Boylan

 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 003, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Harmony Hammond

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, navy,
and copper oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 04”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Amy Smith-Stewart, Harmony Hammond, Material  Witness | Five Decades of Art (Ridgefield and New York: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and Gregory R. Miller & Co., 2019

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "Harmony Hammond, Material Witness | Five Decades of Art" written by Amy Smith-Steward. Here are a pair of notable quotes by Harmony Hammond:

“I see art-making, especially that which comes from the margins of the mainstream, as a site of resistance, a way of interrupting and intervening in those historical and cultural fields that continually exclude me, a sort of gathering of forces on the borders. For the dominant hegemonic stance that has worked to silence and subdue gender and ethnic difference has also silenced difference based on
sexual preference.”

“To say that I’m a woman artist, a feminist a lesbian or Queer artist, or even a painter need not be a limitation unless you make it so, nor are they mutually exclusive.”

“All art participates in multiple narratives. I like to think of mine as contributing to both dominant and oppositional discourses.”   ― Harmony Hammond

 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 004, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Larry Mitchell

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, navy,
and copper oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 36 x 36 x 5.75”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Larry Mitchell, The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions (Ithaca: Calamus Books, 1977)

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions" written by Larry Mitchell. Here is a notable passage from the text:

“The strong women told the faggots that there are two important things to remember about the coming revolutions. The first is that we will get our asses kicked. The second is that we will win.

The faggots knew the first. Faggot ass-kicking is a time-honored sport of the men. But the faggots did not know about the second. They had never thought about winning before. They did not even know what winning meant. So they asked the strong women and the strong women said winning was like surviving, only better. As the strong women explained winning, the faggots were surprised and then excited. The faggots knew about surviving for they always had and this was going to be just plain better. That made ass-kicking different. Getting your ass kicked and then winning elevated the entire enterprise of making revolution.”   ― Larry Mitchell

 

 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 005, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Christopher Chitty

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, Paynes grey and silver oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 04”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Christopher Chitty, Sexual Hegemony (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2020)

Artist notes-: This painting was created after reading the book, "Sexual Hegemony" written by Christopher Chitty. Here is a notable passage from the text:

“The normal will not be understood as ‘normativity’ – some free-floating, regulative idea, perhaps taking shape in particular institutions, according to which human activities are monitored and judged. I will instead conceive of the normal as a status, one which – given certain concrete socioeconomic conditions – accrues material advantages to those who achieve it or happen to be born into it. This understanding restores a sociological significance to the term by reframing whatever cultural competences it marks as extensions of status property. As Pierre Bourdieu writes, ‘Only those who ought to have it can really acquire it and only those who are authorized to have it feel called upon to acquire it.’

The ‘Queer’ can then be recast as a narrower descriptive category, signifying the lack of such status property: it captures the way in which norms of gender and sexuality get weakened, damaged, and reasserted under conditions of local and generalized social, political, and economic crisis. The queer would then imply a contradictor process in which such norms are simultaneously denatured and renaturalized. Rather than marking some utopian opening up of these logics for self-transformative play, the queer would describe forms of love an intimacy with a precarious social status outside the institutions of family, property, and couple form. This critical definition of the categories of the normal and the queer has political implications for present, ongoing analysis of the intersection of gender privilege, race, class and sexuality.”  ― Christopher Chitty

 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 006, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Mario Miele

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, Paynes grey and silver oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 5.75”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Mario Mieli, Towards a Gay Communism (London: Pluto Press, 2018)

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "Towards a Gay Communism" written by Mario Miele. Here is a notable passage from the text:

“What in homosexuality particularly horrifies homo-normalis, the policeman of the hetero-capitalist system, is being fucked in the arse; and this can only mean that one of the most delicious bodily pleasures, anal intercourse, is itself a significant revolutionary force. The thing that we queens are so greatly put down for contains a large part of our subversive gay potential. I keep my treasure in my arse, but then my arse is open to everyone…”  ― Mario Mieli

 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 007, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Julius Eastman

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, navy,
and copper oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 24 x 24 x 10”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Mary Jane Leach, Gay Guerrilla, Julius Eastman and His Music (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2015)

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "Gay Guerrilla, Julius Eastman and His Music" written by Mary Jane Leach. Here are a pair of notable quotes by Julius Eastman:

“These names, either I glorify them or they glorify me. And in the case of guerrilla, that glorifies gay…A guerrilla is someone who in any case is sacrificing his life for a point of view. And you know if there is a cause, and if it is a great cause, those who belong to that cause, will sacrifice their blood because without blood there is no cause.”

“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.”  ― Julius Eastman

 
 
Image Caption: Click on the painting image above to view the work on Artspace (shown in partnership with member gallery Lichtundfire) and also click on the picture of the source book above to link to publisher and/or purchasing information.
 
 

Wonderment Of Otherness Quilt Painting 008, a Monument To the Work and Queer Personhood of Judith Butler

Artist: Christopher Stout, Queer abstraction

Composition: Stacked wooden panels, on which is stretched a quilt fashioned from Belgian linen and cotton fabric sewn together with wire. The finished work is a monochrome painted with midnight, navy,
and copper oil and enamel paint.

Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 5.75”

Year: 2021

Source material / recommended reading: Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (New York and London: Routledge Classics, 2007)

Artist notes: This painting was created after reading the book, "Gender Trouble" written by Judith Bultler. Here is a notable passage from the text:

“The deconstruction of identity is not the deconstruction of politics; rather, it establishes as political the very terms through which identity is articulated. This kind of critique brings into question the foundationalist frame in which feminism as an identify politics has been articulated. The internal paradox of this foundationalism is that it presumes, fixes, and constrains the very “subjects” that it hopes to represent and liberate. The task here is not to celebrate each and every new possibility qua possibility, but to redescribe those possibilities that already exist, but which exist within cultural domains designated as culturally unintelligible and impossible. If identities were no longer fixed as the premises of a political syllogism, and politics no longer understood as a set of practices derived from the alleged interests that belong to a set of ready-made subjects, a new configuration of politics would surely emerge from the ruins of the old. Cultural configurations of sex and gender might then proliferate or,  rather, their present proliferation might then become articulable withing the discourses that establish intelligible cultural life confounding the very binarism of sex, and exposing its fundamental unnaturalness. What other local strategies for engaging the “unnatural” might lead to the denaturalization of gender as such?”  ― Judith Butler