Queer Encounters lines the large, windowed back wall in the Kings Cross Everyman Cinema’s foyer. The work displayed is primarily formed of transcribed dialogues and monologues, images, and maps that form across a series of boards. 12 of these panels house different subjects who reminisce or painfully recall queer events, spaces and times located specifically in the Kings Cross area. The artist Elly Clarke brings together a network of insights that form a web of memories which span various venues and locations in the area, memories that now sit in stark contrast the expensive and luxury takeover that inhabits this part of London.
Clarke interviewed each individual either in person, via Skype or via phone, but their questions are open and encouraging, not searching for specificity necessarily and never disruptive of the organic flow of personal recall. Subjects thus explore their memories openly, sometimes follow desire lines, sometimes revisit dormant paths. Each board is a portrait of a subject, time, space, queerness and forms part of the queer archive. The work’s small printed words draw you in close to read, to look into the face of the person who has shared.
Clarke’s work explores this idea of what constitutes a “Queer-encounter” beyond a straight-forward remembering of a queer time and place that is no longer in Kings Cross’ tangible existence. Through the window that forms the backdrop to the archival display one can see tall buildings, signs of the already-occurred gentrification supernova, buildings that look like they could be domestic apartments or corporate work spaces and – I suppose in this current time and place – there is little to no distinction that needs to be made. The words transcribed onto the Queer Encounters boards are columns beneath the large image of the speaker. These word-columns are mirrored in the columned towers behind them, and maybe the words can map over them with the dirtier, cheaper, wilder times of Kings Cross and, in doing so, turn them to meaningless bricks, turn the money of the towers into nothing but a boring albeit destructive place-holders for “value”.
But what is a Queer Encounter?
I go to the show with Tom and a chatter fills the space. People’s eyes close in on words and the spaces which signal omissions from the transcript as decided by the subjects being interviewed. Glances and conversations ricochet and bounce around the space. Queer Encounters as a show not only sheds light and informative lineage an histories on a past incarnation of Kings Cross, it also encourages a queer future through bringing people with shared interest in queer encounters and encourages the production of new queer encounters right now.
More info>> http://ellyclarke.com/