Queertopia, a curated selection of art films by Gemma Rolls-Bentley in collaboration with Daata Editions.

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Queertopia’s logo. Courtesy of Gemma Rolls-Bentley and Daata Editions.

Queertopia is an independent project created by curator and Artsy contributor Gemma Rolls-Bentley in order to explore ‘queer histories and identities through places’ : -topia is the greek word for place and the centre of all the videos selected in the rich archive of the digital art platform Daata Editions.

The manifesto says: ‘Daata Editions commissions artist video, sound, poetry and web. This new and innovative way to collect art is designed specifically to be a native platform to a new generation of artists who work with moving image and sound. Limited edition artworks can be viewed and acquired as digital downloads.’

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Curator Gemma Rolls-Bentley at Queertopia on view at Somerset House. Courtesy of Gemma Rolls-Bentley.

‘Queertopia is a transcendent geopolitical space we create wherever queer people gather, flee, love, dance, riot and remember’ : given these premises, Queertopia aims to look at queer history in order to talk progress and to create new radical opportunities for queer voices in the present and in the future.

The series features artists from New York and London such as Holly Blakey, Rindon JohnsonZoe Marden, Rashaad Newsome, Hannah Quinlan + Rosie Hastings, Jacolby Satterwhite and Puck Verkade.

Speaking to me during a conversation at Shoreditch House, Gemma Rolls-Bentley points out that ‘As a queer woman, I am pretty much interested in memorialising queer past and celebrating the legacy of our ancestors’.

In the process of compiling Queertopia, Rolls-Bentley chose to focus on more recent queer history and she expressed her appreciation of FX series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story by saying that ‘the series has an educational value and carefully documents the experience of queer people in the 1980s, facing discrimination, silence and internalised homophobia’.

By mixing present, past and future references, artist Puck Verkade created two episodes of a series entitled Breeder, one of them recording the experience of Culture Club’s lead singer Boy George of coping with media hostility and ignorance.

Puck Verkade_Breeder (Episode 1)_2017_Courtesy of the artist & Durst Britt & Mayhew (1)

Puck Verkade Breeder (Episode 1). Courtesy of the artist, Durst Britt, Mayhew, Queertopia and Daata Editions.

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Puck Verkade (2017) Breeder (Episode 2). Courtesy of the artist, Durst Britt,  Mayhew, Queertopia and Daata Editions.

To conclude, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings’s video UK Gaybar Directory helps viewers meditate on the closure of most of LGBTQI+ venues in the last 10 years across the UK: the soundscape crafted by producer Jan Piaseki adds a sense of disembodiment and emptiness to it, which makes the project even more evocative and impactful.

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Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings (2017) Vanila. Courtesy of the artists, Queertopia and Daata Editions.

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Zoe Marden (2018) Little Lo Ting. Courtesy of the artist, Queertopia and Daata Editions.

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Jacolby Satterwhite. En Plein Air Abstraction. Courtesy of the artist, Queertopia and Daata Editions

Queertopia was on view at Somerset House on Tuesday 3 July as part of the celebrations for Pride in London 2018.

For more information:

Queertopia: WebsiteFacebook page or follow the hashtag.

Daata Editions: WebsiteTwitter.

Gemma Rolls-Bentley: InstagramTwitter.

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