Location: United States
Born in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky to a Scotch-Irish-Cherokee family, Theo Edmonds, 42, started life as a champion clog dancer and went on to earn a law degree and a Master’s of Healthcare Administration from Tulane University in New Orleans. His twenties and early thirties were spent like some sort of character from a southern gothic version of “Bright Lights, Big City” if it had been written by Tennessee Williams. In 2004, the real “Theo” began to emerge again and step onto the road which he now finds himself.
His work explores outsider positioning within the dominant cultural narratives and politics of representation. With a passion for continual exploration of cross-media practices, alternative contexts of production and new models for exhibition, his work deploys traditional as well as emerging conceptual/inter-disciplinary visual arts practices, film and experimental theatre genres with a special focus on poetry/music collaborations. He will complete his MFA at the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies in 2013.
Due in large part to technology and social media, we live in a world where we, as individuals, are both increasingly connected to and isolated from each other. In a sense, most everyone, to varying degrees, knows what it feels like to be an outsider. This outsider perspective is what I have come to call "Q Technology."
This series of paintings are inspired by primary source interviews that I conducted to learn how individuals survive and thrive outside of what is considered normative society. The interviews are based on 20 small but difficult questions. The goal is to tap into the collective unconscious of the contemporary outsider.
Here are the questions
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your greatest fear?
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What is your favorite journey?
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your greatest regret?
When and where were you happiest?
Which talent would you most like to have?
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your heroes in real life and in fiction?
What is it that you most dislike?
What is a poem/song that is is deeply meaningful to you? Will you read/perform it for me?
Can art ever be useful?
What is your motto?
Nanabozho is a Native American trickster spirit and shape-shifter who takes the form of a rabbit when entering the human realm. Nanabozho is considered founder of "medicine men" in Ojibwe mythology.
Nanabozho includes a large-scale installation and short performance exploring “outsider” positioning within the dominant cultural narratives. The politics of representation, Native American mythology, cabaret and unflinching street poetry flow together into a glittery ritual of release.
Some of us are blown into bedazzled, hourglass lands. Like Dorothy, we become stuck between two worlds. Neither truly of our own making.
These in between places cultivate the ultimate combination of optimism and fear; of revolution and reverence; of memory and make believe... it is called desire. Desire is the ultimate queer technology. Desire is Q.
Memories can be sweet or painful. Sometimes, we indulge in them. Sometimes, they are deceptive. Sometimes, they take leave of us. There are memories we do not want to lose at any price and others we try to avoid as much as possible.
Our relationship to the past is characterized by the knowledge of the insurmountable distance to it. Only memory is capable of bringing the past into the light of the present; it is a procedure, however, that does not take place without interpretation and selection. Therefore, memory will always be constructed and fragmentary. Memory also contains an almost melancholy component: the experience that a memory references must first be complete in order to reach our consciousness—memory always presupposes a certain degree of loss.
Memory is not only retrospective; it also offers an opportunity to gaze forward. We employ memories to confirm the present and to be an impetus of renewal. Memory serves self-assurance and, in part, endows identity.
Everything is impermanent. When you know a beautiful glass is already broken, then every sip you take from it becomes precious. Art itself is about finding this same balance between suffering and desire. Art is Q. It is a technique of remembrance and a technology of make believe that allows us, at once, to bring both the past and the future into the present moment.
The visual disorder presented in my painted Q work is actually the representation of a curated... or "Queerated"... order. It is just a question of knowing the rules of the game for one to see the order that reigns. It’s like looking at a starry sky. Someone who doesn’t know the order of the stars will only see confusion, whereas an astronomer will have a very clear vision of things. My performance and video work are a kind of “map of the stars” for the viewer to allow you entry into my painted and constructed Q world.
While my Q work navigates a quasi auto-biographical narrative, the interplay of performance and video with my 2-D Q is intended to unfold ideas beyond the specific and anecdotal limits of my own queer journey to encompass a more general scope and encourage a broader dimension of meaning which encompasses the contemporary American outsider expereience in ways that are meant to reach beyond sexuality.
Q is desire manifested. Q is a force operating outside of normative structures and systems. There is fear in being an outsider. But, there is also great hope and exhilaration that a new entry and exit portal seems to have been found. Q is the same technology found in them ruby slippers of Dorothy. Q is desire. Art is Q. It is a form of technology that allows anyone to be a runaway Dorothy and inspire revolutionary action by finding home, not at the other end of a rainbow, but in one’s own skin and in exactly the place where they stand.