Galleries and Events

Queer Knowing: A Prideful Celebration at All Street Gallery

Jara Lopez Sastre Painting
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Queer Knowing: A Prideful Celebration at All Street Gallery
Opening reception of Queer Knowing at All Street NYC. Image courtesy of Shuang Cai.

On Saturday, June 3rd, a clustered audience in front of All Street Gallery could be seen from over a block away. The crowd spilled out from the open doors of the small gallery on East Third Street, as a steady line of visitors made their way in and out of the exhibition.

Kota Khan, Where Did My Childhood Go?

Like many of All Street’s receptions, the boundaries between New York City block parties and downtown gallery openings blur and quite often collapse into an energetic free-for-all, with artists, socialites, and passerbys converging upon this seemingly unexceptional block in the East Village. Small universes open up as strangers and friends alike form circles, holding court on nearby curbs, stoops, and doorways. Overheard conversations seamlessly weave between corsets, tampons, barbwire, and human centipedes. In these works, a cohesive thread wraps around themes of the body, restriction, gender, and sex. These themes come into focus as you read the vinyl lettering upon the gallery’s glass facade: Queer Knowing.

(from left to right) Rebecca Panos, Tied Me to You. Corrine Yonce, Stuck Like an Old Band-Aid. Roberto Balderas and Daniel Ryan Johnston, Restraint-Corset.

Upon entering the space, you’re instantly transported into a world that teeters between the playfulness of a toy store and the solemnity of a therapy session. Human touch in its many forms and meanings is pleasurably communicated across many mediums. Even pieces that rely on heavy technological manipulations or fabrication also either address the sensation of touch or the ephemera of human production. The pops of color paired with the diverse array of soft textures in the exhibition such as plush sculptures, woven tapestries, and clothing contribute to an intrinsic warmth that is often missing in most white box gallery settings. The collection of artworks investigate the cultural expression of sex and sexuality, stoking curiosity to pedestrians and passersby. Viewers playfully consider their own journey of self-discovery and the many humorous, awkward, and gut-wrenching steps they took to reach a place of self acceptance. 

(from left to right) Chaski No and Pedro Sodre, Binding Study. Rebecca Panos, Blankets Over Barbed Wire.

At present, American culture is at a rather unique intersection. There has never been greater visibility and amplification of queer voices on mainstream platforms. However, local governments, legislators, and politicians are both attacking queerness on an ideological level and successfully passing laws to limit personal freedoms and suppress the expression of queer identity. During this simultaneous progress and regression, the amplification of queer voices is of the utmost importance.

The works in the exhibition are inherently subversive to the hierarchical world that was built for the proliferation of cisheteronormativity. Even in the art world, which has had a long standing history of “embracing” queerness, the intersectionality of queer identities is often overlooked and artists are tokenized and become flat representations of their “minority” status. Queer Knowing defiantly challenges such conventions by creating a celebratory space by and for queer people. Rather than creating a melancholic shrine to queer plight, the exhibition establishes the weighted stakes of what it means to be queer in today’s society and pridefully states, “We exist and will continue to thrive together.” Queer Knowing is not just an art exhibition but a commemoration of the multiplicities of queer identity.


Queer Knowing is currently on view at All Street Gallery until July 3rd. Be sure to visit the gallery before it closes!

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