Pride Festival Ottawa August 2015
I Am Right With Me
Curatorial Project for the 30th Anniversary of Pride Ottawa, with LPM Projects & co/curators Adam Barbu & Guy Berube, with the assistance of Capital Pride.
Statement by Adam Barbu
I Am Right With Me is a site-specific photography installation organized in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Ottawa Capital Pride. It began out of an invitation for local curators Guy Berube and Adam Barbu to revisit and reinterpret the expansive Capital Pride collection managed by the City of Ottawa Archives.
Early on in the research process, we arrived at the conclusion that it would be an impossible and futile task to simply repair the cracks in the archives – as if it would ever be possible to construct a holistic account of “queer history.” In this respect, by piecing together these loosely interconnected histories of both celebration and resistance through fragmented, incomplete sets of images, I Am Right With Me marks an attempt to explore these cracks not as closures but as openings for new lines of community to be traced. This project considers how this fragmentary incompleteness expresses the inexhaustible and irreducible spirit of Captial Pride.
The title I Am Right With Me has been extracted from an archival photograph dated from 1996 that depicts a faceless man marching in the parade wearing the same bolded text on the back of his cut-off shirt. In what is increasingly seen as a “post-Internet,” post-feminist,” “post-Marriage,” “post-gay”, or simply “post-everything” cultural sphere, our anonymous figure is, above all, a prophet of both selflessness and self-love. Our task, then, is to recognize that this call to self-love must at the same time be met with a commitment to love one another. Across and between the multiple and varying histories of Capital Pride, in the wake of the considerable political progress that has been achieved both at home and abroad, this simple challenge still remains.
It seems that the restless movement of self-love as continued resistance is precisely that which defines the queerness of “queer politics.” So, what was Capital Pride? Communicated through the exhibited images, this intentionally difficult question provides us the chance to lean forward to our possible queer futures, all the while addressing the multiple challenges and opportunities that define what activism means today.