Even there, there are stars
The “where” in “Even there, there are stars,” presented at CUE Art Foundation, is one of unstable, utopic, non-existence—so it seems. Yet, the more than 25 works on view—which include textiles, works on paper, video, and sculptural pieces by artists Chitra Ganesh, Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski, Emily Oliveira, and Tuesday Smillie—create a sense of profusion, thereby reconfiguring a lack of queer, femme, and BIPOC representation into an abundance of it.
Oliveira’s new 25-foot, site-specific mural, Stumbling through a transdimensional portal as it appears momentarily in the back of the last dyke bar in Brooklyn, she witnesses the Goddess Lenda Murray, a flaming sword in her hand (2021), for instance, reimagines the back of Ginger’s, a Brooklyn-based lesbian bar, as a portal of possibility, depicting, among other things, a newly-hatched purple centaur, a Molotov-cocktail-wielding cherub, an entire cosmos, and a yonic flower.
The speculative work of science fiction, which parallels the world-building of organizers and activists who try to imagine a world without war, prisons, or capitalism, is the salient genre here. The show’s title comes from a line in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore (1972). Playing off this, Smillie depicts Le Guin’s book covers in a series of watercolor paintings. Elsewhere, Ganesh uses the vernacular of Bollywood to project into the world an expanded sense of possibility for queer and femme South Asian bodies. In her linocut print Sultana’s Dream: The Condition of Womanhood (2018), a female figure dozes, one foot aloft, the window a porous threshold between dreams and the world outside, encapsulating the show’s collective envisioning of a star-lit “there.”
Chitra Ganesh, Eclipse, 2020. Archival digital print, 42 x 59 3/5 inches.