Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

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Velvetpark's Official Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2012

The moment I [Editor Marcie] saw the brilliant frontispiece of Jonathan Swift’s “Tale of the Tub” immaculately etched onto my friend’s back, I knew I had to book the artist for my next tattoo. Unfortunately, given Stephanie Tamez’s world renown, I had to wait over a year for said tattoo—but it was my best long-term commitment (in all senses of the word) ever. Hailing from San Antonio, Texas, and now stationed at Saved Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Tamez holds a unique position as a queer woman in a male dominated world. Her career has had a laudable 2012: she was featured on PBS special on tattooing in April; shown her art in an all women art show in Rome in May; joined the project Nomad-Chic in the summer; and just last month she designed and applied fake tattoos on Victoria’s Secret models during its big annual show.

“Creating The Agenda”—Amber Hollibaugh & Lisa Duggan, Scholars, Activists

Amber Hollibaugh and Lisa Duggan have, independently and collectively, decades of queer scholarship and activism under their belts. Hollibaugh serves as the Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice and is author of My Dangerous Desires: A Queer Girl Dreaming Her Way Home. Duggan, a professor of social and cultural analysis at NYU, has written a handful of books, including the infamously titled Sapphic Slashers (2000) and her latest The Twilight of Equality?: Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy (2003). This year these two warrior women joined forces, along with roughly a dozen other queer activists and scholars, to collaborate on “A New Queer Agenda.” Published through Barnard’s Center for Research on Women, this new “Queer Agenda” is a volume dedicated to reorienting the queer movement away from neo-liberalist policies (marriage, military) and towards new grassroots movements aimed at economic and social equality, across race, across gender, and across sexuality. The survival of our movement depends upon broadening the “us.” This volume is one of the most sustained, critical manifestos of a new queer movement for the 21st century.

“Our Literary Laureate”—Jacqueline Woodson, YA Author

Talk to any child or teen, hit any children’s section in a bookstore, and you’ll discover the significance of Jacqueline Woodson in the YA lit-scene rather quickly. With three Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award, a Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement, and countless other awards, Woodson has written more than two dozen children and YA books that tackle issues of identity, sexual abuse, gender, and economic status that help children understand that life is a journey that should be pursued at all cost. Not surprisingly, she has encountered conservative efforts to censure her writing. The Brooklyn implant creates realistic and relatable female characters in her stories. Beneath a Meth Moon, a story about a young girl’s life post-Hurricane Katrina, and Each Kindness, about how children learn to accept and respect each other’s differences, are 2012 releases that think intimately, through the eyes of young female protagonists, about the complexity of our social world.

“The Must Haves”—Adrien Leavitt & A. Slaven, Zine-makers

With the print industry in the midst of a slow-but-steady crumble, it may seem suicidal to start a new print endeavor. But Adrien Leavitt and A. Slaven threw caution to the wind—and thankfully so. Their #1MustHave photo-zine has become print porn for the 21st century queer. According to their mission statement, the project, volumes of which are available in digital and in print, “is about visibility, celebrating diverse queer people, and re-framing the queer experience outside of the victim paradigm often seen in popular culture. It is a way to communicate about non-mainstream queer culture and share empowering images of queerness.” Their photography, originally celebrating the Seattle queer community, has grown to capture queers from across the nation. Their photography is currently on exhibit at the Leslie Lohman Gallery in NYC through 18 January 2013.

“Fluxing Her Muscles”—Dawn Kasper, Interdisciplinary Artist

Some compare L.A.-based artist Dawn Kasper, age 35, to legendary performers Buster Keaton and Harry Houdini.  We see her as both, and more: as handsome as Keaton and Houdini put together, but  a real hero (in spite of the likelihood that, philosophically, she is an “anti-hero”) who’s keeping the rich tradition of physical praxis and the live/death risk of performance alive and well in today’s world of contemporary art and an economy that loves the safe space of digital interaction. Kasper does not take the didactic approach to thinking about death, even though Camus and Derrida line her bookshelf.  Rather, she follows suit in the legacy of Chris Burden, Yoko Ono, Fluxus, Allen Kaprow—merging the fuzzy boundaries between audience and performer, real risk and staged risk, prank and trenchant critique, body and representation.  None of this comes as a surprise; Kasper carved the words “Truth” and “Love” into her biceps, perhaps as an homage to Catherine Opie. Most certainly, Kasper’s work lovingly reeks of tribute and allegiance to the punk-DIY queer feminist community from which she hails.  In 2012, Kasper shook the stronghold of property rights in New York, when she took residence (almost literally) at the Whitney Biennial in staging a 3-month durational performance, This Could Be Something If I Let It.  Having recently lost her studio in Los Angeles, Kasper shipped the entire contents of her studio and apartment to the Whitney, and set up shop in the museum on a full-time basis during business hours.

“The Big Gay Globe”—Jenni Chang & Lisa Dazols
, Journalists, Super-Gay Sleuths

Comments [3]

Del's picture

Re: On NOT being a (queer) woman OR a (gendernon-conforming) MAN

Hey! Thanks for including me in your list and the nice things you said about my work. Just wanted to mention though that although I am what could be called gender non-conforming and queer I am not a MAN or a WOMAN but INTERSEX! That means my anatomical body does not conform to standard definitions of male and female, not hormonally, not chromosomally or in what you see (at least when I'm naked!) 

Thanks for the space to say so! HERMLOVE XX XO Del LaGrace Volcano

Marcie Bianco's picture

We think you're pretty

We think you're pretty amazing, Del. While the overarching list is constructed under the rubric of "queer women," our definition of this already-fraught, already-complex, identity is broad to try to encapsulate all of its complexity and fraught-ness. I'm super thankful to you for this clarification and for your willingness to be included on this list -- the intersex community is (at least I'd like to think) very much a part of our larger community.

Grace Moon's picture

*Editors note*

In case anyone misses this in the intro: "As with past years our criteria is to honor female-identified or non-gender-binary persons"

Since our title would get quite long if we tried to identify all identifiers we've kept it at "...Singnificant Queer Women..."

we understand not everyone identifies as "women" on this list. I hope that clarifies.

xo Moon

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