Canon (Virgenes de la Puerta, Padre Patria, Anda, Los Chicos)
This will also be the museum’s first bilingual show in their 15 year history, on view from October 20th 2017 through January 15th 2018.
How do sexuality and heritage inform each other in the world, and in your work?
There's a very complex relationship between sexuality, heritage, and culture, a relationship that also includes identity, society, religion, politics, and so many more factors. Our work centers around how gender identity and sexual orientation are justifications for violence and cultural exclusion, and how this violence and exclusion is supported by institutions such as society, religion, and heritage.
...The Catholic Church in Peru has tremendous power, which includes a great deal of influence over politicians, legislation, and even the arts. Church leaders, like Bishop Luis Bambaren, have been known to openly call gay and trans people “faggots” during television and radio interviews. This perpetuates the oppression of LGBTQ-identifying people.
Much of our work turns Catholic iconography around, and uses it to elevate members of the LGBTQ community that it usually marginalizes. For example, putting crowns on the heads of gay and trans people, their struggles and triumphs are highlighted, much in the same ways that the struggles and triumphs of Catholic saints are acknowledged and celebrated.
Do you have transgender friends?
Of course. And everyone should. As gay men, we are grouped with trans men and women in the LGBTQ community. Though gender identity and sexual orientation are very different things, We have found that the experience of questioning (and the eventual acceptance of) one’s gender identity or sexual orientation is a lot to have in common with another person. For us, that strengthens our relationship with our trans friends and informs the ways in which we contribute to our community. Despite the differences between our experiences, we find the similarities between gay struggles and trans struggles as strong motivators to be allies with the trans community.
Do you think there’s a correlation between religious awakening and the realization of one’s gender identity?
There certainly can be, both are about relationships with one's own self and with the greater universe, and are a part of developing one's identity. But this is correlation is not universal. Some people have both; some have one without the other; and some live their lives without any awakening whatsoever.
Do you feel there’s an in-between gender?
We both believe in a gender spectrum, and despite living in a highly gendered society, we try not to define or limit another person's gender identity or expression. We're very open to, and we respect, non-binary expressions of gender and gender variance.
I have a theory that the urge to fuck and the urge to kill are the same urge. Do you think sex and violence are connected? How do they connect in your work?
While we don't think that they are the same urge, there is a strong connection between these urges for some people. In our work, specifically the Padre Patria (Fatherland) series (in which we photographed the sites of hate crimes throughout Peru), the connection between these urges may be evident, possibly stemming from complex issues of guilt and self-hatred. Some of the women in the series were murdered by the “johns” who sought them out for sexual pleasure, but would later kill them after the sex act. Societies and religions that force the oppression of sexual identity, and sexual orientation and expression often create situations where this type of guilt and self-loathing manifests itself into violent behaviors or suicide. Because of this, we wondered whether the assailants hated themselves more than they hated their victims.
What is activism, in your opinion? How do we realistically change this kind of trend, or is that even possible?
Activism is when individuals advocate in support of oppressed and marginalized individuals. Those who are oppressed can be activists themselves, or the activists can be allies, or members of the dominant society who recognize the oppression and want to end it. We absolutely believe that activism can change the trend of hate crimes committed against LGBTQ people in Peru, and it is our intent for this project to support that. Canon is about raising awareness of these marginalized communities, which leads to acceptance, which leads to equality. This is not an easy process, or a fast once, but it starts with activism.