Desperate Living C-19

May–October 2020

A new six–month engagement programme which aims to support LGBTQ+ people during and after COVID–19, providing support for artists as well as opportunities for people to engage with arts and culture in direct response to their experiences. 

We have commissioned artists Sunil Gupta, Juliet Jacques, Fredde Lanka, Conal McStravick, Raju Rage with the right lube, Virgil B/G Taylor and further artists to be announced to realise this programme.

Sitting within our wider Desperate Living programme, which launched in February 2020, this new phase has been conceived in response to the effects of COVID–19, whilst physical workshops and engagement have been paused.

We are working in collaboration with individuals, informal groups and charities who provide vital services for intergenerational LGBTQ+ people across London to realise a new programme of live events, support groups, workshops, social activities and commissioning through digital and non-physical channels.

Individual projects will work to maintain intergenerational dialogues and queer online spaces, enact virtual wellbeing, explore international perspectives on public health and COVID–19, interrogate the term ‘community’ and critically reflect on the current status of queer and trans healthcare. Further partners and events to be announced soon. 


Pride Inside with Conal McStravick and Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre

13 June–10 July 2020

Pride inside is a series of queer, collaborative and intergenerational workshops to celebrate Pride at a social distance. Led by artist Conal McStravick, and working with Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre, the project will explore how LGBT+ artists, thinkers and activists have shaped Pride as a protest, a celebration and as an approach to living queerly, leading towards a final project to share for Pride week in July.


Juliet Jacques and CN Lester

17 June 2020

For the first part of her commission for Desperate Living C–19, Jacques was in conversation with CN Lester to mark the 10 year anniversary of Jacques’ A Transgender Journey series for The Guardian. The event took place on Wednesday 17 June 2020 on Zoom.


Må bra?, Fredde Lanka 

22 June–5 July 2020

Må bra? (Feel Well?) is a series of free online sessions focusing on sharing and creating tools to help us maintain a sense of wellbeing in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each session will be led by a different LGBTQIA+ artist who will be sharing their own take on the subject. Featuring Fredde Lanka, Soofiya, Amy Pennington, Dex Grodner, Lateisha Davine Lovelace-Hanson and G(end)er Swap. Må bra? is in collaboration with The Outside Project.

Workshops are free but when booking we encourage you to make a donation towards Black Lives Matter UK.


Desperate Livin: Raju Rage and the right lube

4, 11, 18 & 25 July 2020, 3–5pm

Raju Rage and the right lube will host a series of focused research, conversation and sharing sessions throughout July. These constructive sessions will unpack the context and intersections of ‘community’, explore the history of queer movements, and plan positively for the present and future.

The project will prioritise those from LGBTQI backgrounds.


¶ Study Object Room organised by Virgil B/G Taylor

9 & 23 July, 6 & 20 August, 3 & 24 September 2020

A free and open reading and discussion group organised by Taylor with Tiffany Sia, Sam Richardson, Maya Binyam, Zainab Haidary, Sophia Hussain and Ashkan Sepahvand. Each session or room resolves around a text, selected by Taylor’s invited study–friend. An editable archive of each session will be posted online here.


About the Artists

  • Sunil Gupta

    Sunil Gupta (b. 1953, New Delhi India) is a photographer, writer and curator. He has exhibited internationally and published several books, including Christopher Street, 1976 (Stanley/Barker 2018) and Queer (Vadehra Art Gallery/Prestel 2011). His work is in many public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art (NY, USA) Tate Britain (UK), Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Japan), Arts Council of Great Britain (UK) and Harvard University (Massachusetts, USA). A forthcoming retrospective ‘From Here to Eternity’ opens at The Photographers’ Gallery in Autumn 2020. He is represented by Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery.

  • Juliet Jacques

    Juliet Jacques (b. Redhill, Surrey, 1981) is a writer and filmmaker based in London. She has published two books, most recently Trans: A Memoir (Verso, 2015), which was runner-up in the Polari First LGBT Book Award in 2016. Her short fiction and essays have been included in several anthologies, and her journalism and criticism has been published in Granta, Sight & Sound, Frieze, The Guardian, The London Review of Books and many other places. She has made two short films: Approach/Withdraw (2016) with artist Ker Wallwork, and You Will Be Free (2017), both of which have screened in galleries and festivals across Europe. In summer 2018, she was Artist in Residence at the Izolyatsia cultural platform in Kyiv.

  • Fredde Lanka

    Fred(rik) Andersson is an Illustrator and ceramicist. Originally from Sweden, for the last five years he has been based in London, working as an independent artist and educator. He works in a bold, colourful style across illustration, comic books and ceramics. His work is humorous and strongly narrative and addresses topics ranging from queer culture, family dynamics and sex. He has taught arts education courses at the Camden Art Centre and the Camberwell College of Arts. He is the artistic director for The Outside Project (UK’s first LGBTQIA+ Shelter and community centre) where he raises money, runs workshops and facilitates the Project’s physical and digital spaces alongside the diverse group of stakeholders who use them. Queer community is important to him. He believes that it is critical to recognise our own privilege and give back to the communities that inspire and educate his practice.

  • Conal McStravick

    Conal McStravick (b. 1979, Lurgan, N.Ireland) is an artist, educator and writer who makes solo and collaborative artworks, workshops and events that explore LGBTQIA and queer feminist activisms, cultures, histories and practices in moving image, performance and text. McStravick has exhibited in the UK and overseas including collaborative exhibitions and events at Generator, Dundee, CCA Glasgow, CCA Derry-Londonderry, Enclave, London and The Northern Quarter, Newcastle with collaborators including Laura Aldridge, Kathryn Elkin, Simone Hutchinson, Alexander Kennedy, Cara Tolmie, and Patrick Staff. He has appeared on panels and given presentations on Stuart Marshall, AIDS activism and broader cultural activisms at BFI Flare, Birkbeck, Concordia, Glasgow International and Chelsea College of Art, where he guest lectures. Mc Stravick studied at Glasgow School of Art and CRMEP Kingston, has served on the committee of Transmission Gallery, was selected as a LUX Associate Artist in 2011.

  • Raju Rage

    Raju Rage is proactive about using art, education and activism to forge creative survival. Based in London and working beyond, they explore the spaces and relationships between dis/connected bodies, theory and practice, text and the body and aesthetics and the political substance. Their current interests are around value, care and resistance. They are a member of Collective Creativity arts collective, A People’s Art Collective and a creative educator with an interest in radical pedagogy.  Raju has a theirstory in activism, self and collective organised queer/ transgender/ people of colour movements and creative projects in London and beyond from which their politics and works draw on and from.

  • the right lube

    The Right Lube is Maz Murray and Hava Carvajal, a trans couple who write about art, culture, trans feels, gender, queerness, assimilation, class and race. They focus on the different shiny ways that power tries to hide a violent system that is out to kill them and most everybody else. Before COVID they ran a Trans Hangout every two weeks in Bethnal Green, they now moderate an online trans Discord. They feel that being messy is an effective tactic to disrupt the pressures of neoliberal assimilation, but they also want to make money so they can afford their hormones. They are currently living in Basildon, Essex.

  • Virgil B/G Taylor

    Virgil B/G Taylor is an american faggot based in Beacon or London or Bremen or Berlin. He makes fag tips, an online speculative zine. He is one half of sssssssssSsss, a study-friendship with Ashkan Sepahvand and a member of What Would An HIV Doula Do?, a collective of artists, writers, caretakers, activists and more gathered in response to the ongoing HIV/AIDS pandemic. His work explores histories of care and crisis, magic and toxicity. In addition to his art practice, which has been exhibited and performed in the US and Europe, he is a member of the editorial collective of PINKO Magazine, a magazine of gay communism. He was a 2017-18 Queer|Art|Mentorship fellow in Fine Art during which he was mentored by Carrie Yamaoka, a member of Fierce Pussy. He has a masters degree in Public Histories from Birkbeck College, University of London and is a Meisterschüler under the supervision of Natascha Sadr Haghighian at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen.

Illustration and design by Jamie Beard.

Desperate Living C–19 is supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, City Bridge Trust via London Community Response Fund, and Mila Charitable Organisation.

Studio Voltaire’s Participation Programme has received additional support from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Image credits

Conal McStravick, Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre at Showroom London with Bruce Bayley, Conal McStravick and Adam Saad, 2017
Jamie Beard, Desperate Living Graphic Identity, 2020
Fredde Lanka, Events banner for Ma Bra?, 2020
Raju Rage, A Pyramid Revealed By A Sandstorm, 2017
¶ Study Object Room organised by Virgil B/G Taylor graphic, 2020