What is Transnational Queer Underground?

The name Transnantional Queer Underground is a reference to the International Pop Underground Convention, a festival that was held in 1991 in Olympia, Washington. The first day of the festival was called Girls Night and a lot of the early Riot Grrrl and Queercore bands played there. It was a kind of landmark and starting point for women in independent music, a scene that is male dominated to this day. Coming from the suburbs myself, Riot Grrrl and their critique of a male domination and an oppressive capitalist system was something that I could relate to, even though I only found out about the movement much later. And the idea of how queercore came into existence through two punk kids (Bruce LaBruce and GB Jones) that didn’t feel at home in either the punk scene or the gay scene and therefore just decided to create their own thing has definetly inspired me in becoming actively involved in making zines, djing, organizing and creating the things I think are missing.

So Transnational Queer Underground was born out of the the frustration that most English speaking media is dominated by western, mostly American ideas and standarts, and that it is very hard to find anything about the amazing work people are doing in other parts of the world.

Visit page: www.transnational-queer-underground.net

In order to involve more people from different areas I sent out a call for #TheGalleryProject in the last year asking people to share 5-15 images of what they are working on at the moment and to write a little bit about themselves and their artwork. By now almost 50 people from more than 27 different countries have shared their work and are telling their very own stories of being queer and how they experience that. I’ve received artwork from people who could be persecuted in their own countries if they got linked back to their artwork, but who want to be able to talk about the things that concern them, if not in their own country than at least annonymously through the internet. There’s people who have never published anything before or even got inspired to create something for the first time after reading the call, as well as more established artists. So I think it is a really interesting mix of works that we’re also showing in physical exhibitions this year in 10 different places in Europe.

What has been the most rewarding thing about the project so far?

All the positive feedback that I’ve got, from the artists themselves, from people who are interested in hosting the exhibition and from people who helped set up or visited the first exhibition in Tallinn, Estonia in March. I mean I’ve never met most of the artists in real life, still we’ve managed to set up a quite impressive collection of artworks, either original or in print (it’s almost impossible to send physical artworks from some countries) and this is all purely based on trust and a common belief that we want more diverse voices to be heard.

Which projects and exhibitions do you have planned for the future?

#TheGalleryProject is still open for contributions and we also have an open call for a project called #our_story, which aims to highlight the stories of women, of non-white, non-straight, and gender non-conforming people. Because it’s only all of us together who can make a change and create a powerful opposition towards white male domination. I am also in the process of planning nine more physical exhibitions for #TheGalleryProject which will hopefully be confirmed very soon.

(Questions answered for Sleek Magazine. Read article about TQU here.)