Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Various Artists

Literary Reflections of Ballroom

Hosted by Ballroom ally Edgar Rivera Colon, this event celebrated of the release of four books written by members of, and focusing on the House and Ballroom scene, its influence on visual culture, notions of gender, practices of resilience and joy in flight from multiple, intersecting structural oppressions.

Gerard Gaskin - Legendary: Inside the House & Ballroom Scene

Marlon Bailey - Butch Queens up in Pumps: Gender, Performance and Ballroom Culture in Detroit,

Douglas Says - The Red Dress

Icon Tyra A Ross (Dominique Jackson) - The Transexual from Tobago

 

Details

Gerard Gaskin - Legendary: Inside the House & Ballroom Scene, a photo history of the Ballroom Scene compiled over 20 years. 

Book Blurb: Gerard H. Gaskin's radiant color and black-and-white photographs take us inside the culture of house balls, underground events where gay and transgender men and women, mostly African American and Latino, come together to see and be seen. At balls, high-spirited late-night pageants, members of particular "houses"—the House of Blahnik, the House of Xtravaganza—"walk," competing for trophies in categories based on costume, attitude, dance moves, and "realness." In this exuberant world of artistry and self-fashioning, people often marginalized for being who they are can flaunt and celebrate their most vibrant, spectacular selves.

From the quiet backstage, to the shimmering energies of the runway. to the electricity of the crowd, Gaskin's photographs take us to the ball. Legendary, comprised of photos taken at events in the New York city area, Philadelphia, Richmond, and Washington, D.C., is a collaboration between Gaskin, a camera-laden outsider who has been attending balls for twenty years, and the house members who let him enter the intimate world of ball culture. In addition to an introduction by Deborah Willis, Legendary includes an essay, "The Queer Undercommons," by Frank Roberts.

 

Marlon Bailey - Butch Queens up in Pumps: Gender, Performance and Ballroom Culture in Detroit, a social science study of vulnerability and resilience within the scene’s intentional kinship and collective art making practices.

Book Blurb: Butch Queens Up in Pumps examines Ballroom culture, in which inner-city LGBT individuals dress, dance, and vogue to compete for prizes and trophies. Participants are affiliated with a house, an alternative family structure typically named after haute couture designers and providing support to this diverse community. Marlon M. Bailey’s rich first-person performance ethnography of the Ballroom scene in Detroit examines Ballroom as a queer cultural formation that upsets dominant notions of gender, sexuality, kinship, and community.

 

Douglas Says - The Red Dress

A photo book featuring many of the legendary dresses the iconic fashion designer created specifically for Ballroom Icons such as Octavia St. Laurent Mizrahi.

Book Blurb: The Red Dress, is a beauty story, an accessory story, eclipsed only by the beauty and details which every woman within these pages delivers.

 

Icon Tyra A Ross (Dominique Jackson) - The Transexual from Tobago

Book Blurb: This book is an attempt to bring visibility to a community constantly abused by it's peers. It is the experience from one but of many. It addresses the need for understanding not just tolerance. it is a plea for not only EQUALITY but for COMPASSION. ALL LABELS, TITLES, GENDERS, COLORS, NATIONALITIES, COMMUNITIES ASIDE, ALL I SEE IS HUMAN

 

The event took place in the Orozco Room, where the great Mexican Communist public artist José Clemente Orozco painted a panoramic series of murals in 1931, titled: Science, Labor, and ArtHomecoming of the Worker of the New DayStruggle in the OrientStruggle in the Occident; and Table of Universal Brotherhood.

 

The event was as collaboration with The Vera List Center for Art and Politics and their documentation of the discussion is below.