Inside Out Festival is partnering for the first time with The Toronto International Film Festival to bring Queerskins: a love a story for a month long installation in the beautiful gallery at the Lightbox building. This is our first time in a proper gallery space as opposed to film festival venue and we are so thrilled to have this opportunity. The installation will feature photographs by Tagger Yancey IV of Tribeca participants (see prior post) and also an interactive, immersive installation in which we attempt and fail (a little) to domesticate the gallery space.
Queerskins is a crowd-sourced photography project inspired by the interactive narrative and virtual reality experience, Queerskins: a love story (www.queerskins.com). In the VR experience, participants construct the semi-fictional character of Sebastian, a young gay physician from a rural Catholic Missouri family who dies of AIDS in 1990, by interacting with a box of his belongings, photographs and a diary. Commissioned by The Tribeca Film Festival, where the work premiered, we created an immersive interactive installation, a recreation of Sebastian’s childhood attic bedroom, transformed by imagination and memory. We asked visitors to consider their own stories of love and loss, and, as they went through the installation, to find an object that spoke to this. Tagger Yancey then photographed them in communion with the objects and invited them to share, in writing, the object’s personal significance. These are the photographs and stories which you will find in this book.
We did not anticipate how deeply and personally the act of choosing and object and being photographed would affect people. By creating a temporary shared, but solitary experience in which shame, the loss of love and acceptance, and transcendence intermingle and are made visible, Queerskins created a safe space for emotional contemplation. We are still trying to understand how this combination of the virtual and the real generated such an open and intense exchange with strangers. We are grateful and honored that our art has been a catalyst for this.
The installation at Tribeca recreates the childhood attic bedroom of Sebastian, the young gay physician from a rural Catholic Missouri family who dies of AIDS in 1990, who is the main and missing character in Queerskins: a love story. It came to me in a period of a few days and tens of hours online looking through Home Depot and Lowes , Amazon, Etsy (where the handmade purple taffeta rose bridal runner came from for the Drag Hallway) and, of course, eBay. We could not have done this without Cory Allen, our DP from the Queerskins shoot, who did the theatrical lighting for this including creating fake windows in the attic.
The installation is historically accurate and meticulously curated which gives it such realism that many people truly thought Sebastian was real. He is to me. I wrote 40,000 words of his diary basing him on my own experiences with HIV patients and my own research and also my own biography.