By Yulia Federov
Luminato Festival is not just your average arts festival—it’s a barrier-breaking display of all forms of artwork, created by Canada’s—and the world’s--most creative artists. Since its first run in 2007, the festival has been known for its keenness for drawing attention to important social justice issues, through the art that it displays—this year being no exception.
The festival features a variety of works of art created by and for the LGBTQ+ community this June—for several important reasons.
One of the main reasons for making a variety of Luminato 2019 events queer-focused is because 2019 marks a few important milestones in the LGBTQ2S community. For one, it’s the 50-year anniversary of the stonewall riots—a monumental demonstration orchestrated by the queer community in retaliation to police’ unfair treatment, which occurred in New York but resonated across all of North America. To commemorate the riots, Luminato has teamed up with The 519 to create a blank canvas, meant to be filled however visitors see fit. The 519 has doors opened from June 7th up to the 16th for this community art project aptly titled The Art of Resistance.
“We’re letting the queer community come in and express themselves however they want in an artistic lens, without any sort of censorship,” Alex Rand – Producer, Illuminating Ideas, which is a series of events that highlight important themes during the Luminato festival, explains. “Through that, we’re hoping for conversations around what the [queer] community needs right now, how they can mourn, and what needs to happen.”
Another milestone that is being celebrated this year is the 30 year anniversary of the end of Robert Mapplethorpe’s influential life. This openly gay photographer shocked the world with his controversial photos, which challenged and continue to change the idea of unnecessary censorship in queerness. On June 21st, a film about Mapplethorpe’s life and ground-breaking career will be screened at Harbourfront Centre as part of the Illuminating Ideas project—and it will be followed by a panel discussion about queer censorship in art. “Panelists like Sook-Yin Lee are going to be talking to artists about what it means to be an activist and artist, especially a queer artist, and what censorship looks like or doesn’t look like,” says Rand.
These events and many more, will be happening as part of Luminato Festival’s focus on the representation of queer, and queer-produced artwork. Rand believes that by shedding light on the queer community’s struggles and triumphs through artwork at Luminato, can spark change in Toronto—and perhaps even globally. “Art has the capacity to open up and tell stories,” he says. “I think that by telling these stories [through art] we’re giving audiences and community members, who may not necessarily know these stories, a chance to relate, connect and find a way to see everybody on a more human level.”
To learn more about the Illuminating Ideas project, and to keep up with the events that will be happening this June, 2019 at the Luminato Festival, click here.
*EDITOR’S NOTE : VIBE105 is the Community Media Partner of Luminato Festival 2019