International Queers Take Over Creative Time Summit

International Queers Take Over Creative Time Summit

The prestigious arts nonprofit dresses up in drag for its 11th annual summit.

The prestigious arts nonprofit dresses up in drag for its 11th annual summit.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

If the word “summit” conjures laser pointers and panels of execs as white as printer paper, you haven’t witnessed the Creative Time Summit, which kicked off last night in Miami. Creative Time, white-glove curators of renowned public art, is known for mixing the blue-chip with the subterranean; previous projects range from bus ads promoting HIV awareness, to revitalizing city landmarks like Lower East Side’s historic Essex Street Market.

So it figures that their take on the summit would be Fortune 500-free. But, like any effective meeting, the summit’s opening night at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, did include a PowerPoint: Kunsten_Dunst, one of many local drag queens who performed, clicked through slides such as “I want you to slide into me like Miami’s gonna slide into the Atlantic ocean” and “Fuck you & fuck this,” setting a tone of irreverence mixed with militantism.

The summit, officially titled “On Archipelagos and Other Imaginaries: Collective Strategies to Inhabit the World," features speakers from a range of cultural and professional backgrounds. Among them is the trans artist Bhenji Ra, a leader in the trans community in Sydney, Australia, who says the event’s organizers asked to speak after finding her on Instagram. “It’s kind of funny; I don’t even curate [my Instagram] that nicely at all,” she says. “But [they were] like, we would love for you to come over to Miami. Which is kind of sick and totally unreal because sometimes I feel really isolated, being based in Australia.”

Of the queer scene back home, Ra says it’s a mix of indigenous queer culture and slightly antiquated Western traditions, such as the underground Harlem ballroom scene. “A lot of the girls are fa'afafine or fakaleiti, which is the cultural term in Samoa and Tonga for people who are third gender or trans-gender, she says. “At our vogue balls, we’ll have a table of Fijian aunties in the corner, or Filipino mothers cooking food for like our ball events.”  

Despite its relative isolation, the community is well aware of the increasingly hostile climate for trans people worldwide, says Ra: “It doesn’t matter if you're under the Trump administration or the Bolsonaro government, you're going to feel the rhetoric that comes from those places.”

Given today’s slippery geopolitical, technological world, Ra says the summit’s potential to create a curated coalition has never been more valuable. “I keep trying to envision ourselves in the future, and what that look will like,” she says. “Are we erased? Or do we exist and survive? [That’s why] doing this work on a global level is so important; not just in the American West, but also the Global South. Because I feel like we’re all kind of connected.”

UP NEXT

Mackenzie Foy is This Season's Leading Lady