LGBTQIA+ initiative to support early career artists and curators
About Center Stage
Center Stage is a non-profit project fully dedicated to support LGBTQIA+ artists and curators through conducting international open calls, funding and organising exhibitions, publishing zines, and helping artists in early career stages to visit important artistic residencies.

We stand for diversity, equality, respect of LGBTQIA+ rights, and act against any types of discrimination, including homo- and transphobia, and oppression of any kind. We think it's crucially important to show people in Russia diverse range of art especially in time when new anti-human laws are intended to be applied by the government.
Open call 2020
Center Stage is planning 2020/2021 season (November 2020—November 2021) and inviting artists and curators from all over the world to participate in an open call made in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ community, with aim to support creative people in early career stages, to celebrate diversity in all its forms, as well as focus public attention to important issues of modern world.

Timing• Open call dates: August, 20—September, 15
• Selection period: October, 15-31
• Finalists and exact schedule of shows and publishing activities will be announced by early November
• Start of the program for 2020/2021 season — November 2020
Artist and curators can submit applications in following categories:
Artist in early career stage
Up to 12 artists with no age limit will be selected for special one by one presentation in Moscow in 2020/2021 season, plus all shortlisted artists will be presented in a final month-long exhibition in New York in 2022. One finalist will get a grant for participation in fully funded artistic residency in New York in 2022.

Application must include:
For «artist in early career stage» category — one pdf file up to 15Mb size composed of:
• Artist's CV incl. artist statement, up to 2 pages
• Portfolio up to 10 pages (incl. short description of the projects, medium, scale, materials and year of production).

All application must be in English from individuals of 18 years and older. The application must be submitted by September 15th to:
Curators and artists are welcome to send proposals. One project will be realised in Moscow in 2020/21 season. The gallery floor plan is available here.

Application must include:
For «Group project» category — one pdf file up to 15 Mb size composed of:
• Artist's CV incl. artist statement or curator's CV, up to 2 pages
• Portfolio up to 10 pages (incl. short description of the projects, medium, scale, materials and year of production)
• Project proposal (1000 words max) with not less than 3 sketches, including information on proposed artists.

All application must be in English from individuals of 18 years and older. The application must be submitted by September 15th to:
Zines from two finalists with up to 1000 copies will be produced in 2020/2021 season.

Application must include:
For «Zine» category — one pdf file up to 15 Mb size composed of:
• Artist's CV incl. artist statement, up to 2 pages
• Zine proposal (up to 500 words) with not less than 3 sketches, up to 5 pages — Any additional information (previously realised projects), up to 5 pages.

All application must be in English from individuals of 18 years and older. The application must be submitted by September 15th to:
Antonio Sergio Bessa
Anastasiia Fedorova
Alexander Burenkov Team
Sergey Guschin
Center Stage announces the winners of the first international open call for LGBTQIA+ artists

In August 2020, an international non-profit project dedicated to support LGBTQIA+ artists and curators was announced. The first initiative of the project was an open call for artists held in the following categories: a nomination for artists in early career stage (with no age limit) and a «Zine»‎ category. The jurors decided to cancel the third category, «Project»‎.

For category «Artists in early career stage», Center Stage received 75 applications from artists from 21 countries, including Pakistan, South Africa, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, China, Russia, the United States, and others.
The international expert jury along with Antonio Sergio Bessa (The Bronx Museum of the Arts), Lee Pivnik (The Institute of Queer Ecology), Chris Bogia (Fire Island Artist Residency), Anastasiia Fedorova (Russian.Queer.Revolution), Alexander Burenkov (Cosmoscow Foundation), E-J Scott (Museum of Transology) and Sergey Guschin (Fragment gallery) selected the shortlist of artists.

The winners of the «Artists in early career stage»‎ category:
Dew Kim (South Korea)
Man Ting Vanessa Lam (Hong Kong, China)
David Leal (Portugal / Great Britain)
Antonia Luxem (Great Britain)
Matteo Rosa (Italy / Sweden)
Pasha (Russia)

Works of shortlisted artists will be presented in Moscow in the 2020/2021 season in different types of projects discussed with all winners individually. In 2022, there will be a group exhibition in New York, and one of the finalists will get a grant for participation in artistic residency in New York in 2022 (a decision on who is going will be made later).

The winners of «Zine»‎ category were selected by the team of a Russian queer magazine, O-zine. A total of 10 applications from four different countries — Russia, Great Britain, Singapore, and Mexico — entered this category.

The winner of the «Zine»‎ category:
Nelson Morales (Mexico)

The zine will be published till October 2021.

«Open call grabbed the artists' attention from all over the world, and not just from the United States and Europe; the geography of the project turned out to be really extensive. Of course, we expected more applications from Russia, but there weren't that many, which is quite understandable. Aggressive state policy towards LGBTQ+, the law on ' gay propaganda' prevents many artists from openly participating in the project, and the only Russian winner has to act anonymously», — shared the initiative's organisers.

Center Stage presents «Disidentification», Antonia Luxem's solo exhibition, one of the 2020 international open call's winners

Center Stage begins its exhibition series of the 2020 international open call winners. The first of these is the «Disidentification» exhibition by the London-based artist and filmmaker, Antonia Luxem, which is shown at Fragment gallery (Moscow, Russia).

Antonia Luxem's experimental and abstract films are inspired by her interests in neurology, philosophy, human perception, thought processes and dream spaces. Luxem in her artistic practice also explores questions of queer identity, for the artist it's an opportunity not only to rethink personal experiences but also to contribute to the expansion of LGBTQIA+ culture. «We need to have a voice and it needs to be an inspiring and powerful one», says the artist. When creating her films, Antonia Luxem experiments with form through unusual filming and editing techniques and subverts common filmmaking structures, creating space for multiple interpretations. Luxem treats her films as channels to explore the body, different realities, unconsciousness, fantasies, dreams and magic.

The «Disidentification» exhibition at Fragment Gallery is the artist's first solo exhibition. Four film works are shown at Luxem's exhibition in Moscow. The centerpiece of the exhibition is an aesthetic video installation: «Dearest Degenerate» is a polemic, poetic and passionate letter that guides us through layers of visual metaphors, and addresses the close and homophobic person. The work was developed from material found in personal notebooks and diaries and inspired by books such as Didier Eribon's «Insult and the Making of the Gay Self» (who also organized the first conference in France dedicated to gays and lesbians in 1997), and «Cruising Utopia», written by one of the most influential queer theorists, José Esteban Muñoz.

The exhibition is curated in such a manner as to show a wide range of topics that are covered in Luxem's works. Thus, «Trance Duped» is a dreamlike journey that explores themes of bodily and psychic entrapment — the artist draws connections between the subjective reality of each human being and the uniqueness of their sexualities. «Ode au Temps» is a four-screen video installation which takes time as its starting point to explore the anxiety felt by the individual faced to the universe. «Cosmos Echo» is a work based on the human brain's visual interpretation of sounds from space. The artist sees human perception as a combination of various thought processes: the brain, devoid of any knowledge about sounds from space, can only seek to interpret these using past knowledge, and it is only with repetition that new imagery is created, slowly replacing - or transforming - the familiar into the imaginary.

It is significant for the Center Stage initiative and its co-organizer, Fragment Gallery, to show the works of Antonia Luxem, who is not only an artist in her own right but also a queer activist, in Russia, a country where in recent years human rights violations have been on the rise, new discriminatory laws have been adopted and aggression towards LGBTQIA+ representatives have been steadily growing.

Exhibition dates: 29 December 2020 – 25 January 2021
By appointment only.
Phone: +7(495)740-84-38
Address: Moscow, 3rd Krasnoselsky lane, 19 b.7 (2nd floor)

About the artist
Antonia Luxem is an artist and filmmaker. Her work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals in the UK and abroad. Recent screenings and exhibitions include B3 Biennal of the moving image, Frankfurt; Swiss Church, London; Well Projects, Margate; Whitstable Biennale; Guest Projects, London. Recent film festivals include New York Independent Film Festival, New York; Underwire Film Festival, London; Traverse Video, Toulouse; East End Film Festival, London. She is the recipient of an Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grant, a-n bursary award and is a FLAMIN Fellowship alumnus.
Center Stage has published a zine «I Am The Queen» by Nelson Morales, one of the winners of the «Zine» category.

In the beginning of 2021, Center Stage has published a zine «I Am The Queen» by Nelson Morales, one of the winners of the «Zine» category.

The zine contains images of the project about the Muxe community of Oaxaca (Mexico). Muxes are considered the third gender in Mexico for which they are accepted and loved by their families. Each page of the zine portrays the dreams and illusions of the Muxe community in Oaxaca.

Nelson Morales is a photographer whose work mainly focuses on issues of gender, body, identity, and sexual diversity. He's a participant of Oaxaca Photography Biennial (Mexico), II Hector Garcia Biennial (Mexico), XVIII Bienal Centro de la imagen (Mexico). His exhibitions were held in Mexico, Malaysia, Greece, Colombia, Germany, Portugal, India, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, including solo exhibitions in Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and the USA. In 2020, Morales became a nominee for the World Press Photo and was a finalist of the Robert Giard scholarship. His works are in the collections of Bank of America Merril Lynch, Nall Hollis and McNay Art Museum.

Center Stage's special project: Young-jun Tak «Wish You a Lovely Sunday»

Wish You a Lovely Sunday is Young-jun Tak's first solo exhibition at the gallery, and it is the premiere of his video of the same title.

The video boldly combines and juxtaposes two distinctive spatial settings—a church and a queer club. For this filmic work, two choreographers and two dancers were paired up to create a new choreography, for the church "Kirche am Südstern" and the queer club "SchwuZ" in Berlin respectively. Each pair was assigned to a different Bach piano piece for four hands. After days of rehearsals and when the choreography was complete, their designated venues were then swapped. The participants did not know the exact location they would perform in until the actual day of filming, and, therefore, they had to reprogram their choreographies according to the new architectural features and atmosphere of the changed location.

Although churches and queer clubs seem to function for starkly different purposes, both spaces share intriguing similarities as they both require specific rituals, behavioral norms, and attitudes closely linked to the space and its role. Both venues could be said to be fundamentally community-oriented spaces, which seek to offer comfort and welfare for either the visitor's mind or body. In the film, the continuous change of scenes between the two kind of spaces with the dancer's bodily presence, their movements, and dialogues, aims at achieving a sort of almost impossible mergence or coexistence of religious practice on one side and club culture on the other side. In this 17 minutes video, we follow the protagonists' struggles, passion, and commitment in trying to adjust their choreographies to fit into the new contexts.

About the artist:
Young-jun Tak (born in 1989 in Seoul, South Korea) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. His works have been exhibited at 11th Berlin Biennale (2020), Hall Art Foundation / Schloss Derneburg Museum (2020), Diskurs Berlin (2019), Seoul Museum of Art, SeMA Bunker (2019), Brandenburgischer Kunstverein Potsdam (2018), PS120 (2018, Berlin), 15th Istanbul Biennial (2017), König Galerie (2016, Berlin) among others.

In his practice, Young-jun Tak raises questions about the Christian fanaticism of today and its fear for bodily pleasures and diversity within our contemporary culture. He analyses the moral mechanizations of societies that are currently echoing each other throughout the world by targeting LGBTQIA+ communities.
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