Desperate Living C–19

May–December 2020

Desperate Living C–19 is 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, Ain Bailey and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski 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.


Pride Inside with Conal McStravick and Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons' Trust

Må bra?, Fredde Lanka 

Desperate Livin: Raju Rage and the right lube

Coming soon.

¶ Study Object Room organised by Virgil B/G Taylor

Ain Bailey and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski: Remember to Exhale

Trans 20:20s: Juliet Jacques

Sunil Gupta

Coming soon

About the Artists

  • Ain Bailey

    Ain Bailey is a sound artist and DJ. She facilitates workshops considering the role of sound in the formation of identity and recently held a residency at the ICA, London. Exhibitions in 2019 included the group shows: ‘The Range’ at Eastside Projects, Birmingham; ‘RE:Respite’ at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland, and ‘And We’ll Always Be A Disco In The Glow Of Love’, a solo show at Cubitt Gallery, London. Last year, Bailey was commissioned by Supernormal and Jupiter festivals to create and perform a new work,  ‘Super JR’. Currently, following a commission by Serpentine Projects, she is conducting sound workshops with LGBTI+ refugees and asylum seekers, as well as working on commissions for radio for Deutshlandfunk Kultur and Savvy Contemporary’s new radio station, SAVVYZAAR.

  • 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.

  • Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski

    Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski is a Minneapolis/London based, mixed media artist and designer, archivist and organiser. She investigates archives in relation to Black and minority ethnic histories and experiences in Britain and throughout the Diaspora, theorising and sharing her ideas on archives as spaces of therapy. Her current research focuses on the synergies between feminist, queer and (self-)archiving as curatorial and artistic practice. She is currently the archivist for the Rita Keegan Archive Project.

    Most recent exhibitions include,  Show & Tell, Women’s Art Library, Goldsmiths (2015), WARM Guerrillas: Feminist Visions, Minneapolis (2016), Stardate: 02.20.2017, Controlled Burn, Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis (2017), Dunkle Energie/Dark Energy: Feminist Organising, Working Collectively, Vienna’s Fine Art Academy,  (2019), Mercator: Distortions and Projections in Discovery, The Triangle, University Arts London (2019).

  • 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
The London Community Response Fund administered by City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder
Mila Charitable Organisation

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

  • Image credits

    Conal McStravick, Mosaic Pride Inside film stills, 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
    Ain Bailey and Ego Ahaiwe Sowinski, Remember to Exhale, 2020
    Jamie Beard, Desperate Living graphic identity, Trans 20:20s identity