Queer subcultures afford us an opportunity to depart from the normative model of youth cultures as stages on the way to adulthood—allowing us to map out different forms of adulthood.
-Judith Halberstam, In A Queer Time and Place
Mark Aguhar is a Chicago based queer artist of Filipino descent. Aguhar’s work is an exploration in the intricate ways in which bodies, race, sex, and sexuality all intersect and shape the power one wields in the world. Aguhar is heavily influenced by work from communities concerned with body politics—namely, Feminist, Trans, and Kink communities. You can read his artist statement here.
In his exploration of what it means to grow up gay on the internet, Aguhar uses queer online communities as inspiration for his work. His work explores, “how queerness is physically manifest, such as with hair, clothing/costuming, and coded symbols.”
Aguhar’s work is also concerned with the way power operates, and how that process is parodied in consensual power play.
Finally, his work is about body acceptance. I find this work to be the most fascinating and powerful. Aguhar boldly displays pictures of his fat body and brown skin to critique the rampant fetishization of whiteness and thinness in American culture, and especially in gay culture.
In his Litanies he writes, “Blessed are the Genderqueers/Blessed are the Kinksters/Blessed are the Disabled/Blessed are the Hot Fat Girls…/Blessed are the beloved who I didn’t describe, I couldn’t describe, will learn to describe and respect and love. Amen.”
Mark’s work, to me, represents an attempt to carve out additional space for those who are alienated by mainstream gay identities. Masculinity and physical beauty are paramount in the “gay world”– which has a history of excluding female same-sex sexuality. Mark’s work is especially powerful in the way it speaks to liminal subjects– gay men (like myself) who reject normative masculinity, trans-folk who practice kink, disabled genderqueer lesbians, and so on. What are some other ways in which the internet facilitates proliferation of queer identities?
*If you would like to purchase a zine, Mark’s paypal is firstname.lastname@example.org