Desperate Living (COVID-19)

May – October 2020

Studio Voltaire has launched 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 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 will work 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. 

Desperate Living is supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Mila Charitable Organisation.

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

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.

Image credits

Juliet Jacques, You Will be Free, 2017
Raju Rage, A Pyramid Revealed By A Sandstorm, 2017
Fredde Lanka, Events banner commissioned by the Gay Dating App SCRUFF. Digital / 2019.
Sunil Gupta, From the tape–slide project London Gay Switchboard, 1980. 35mm slides transferred to digital media for ‘Keywords’, INIVA/Tate Liverpool, 2013-14. Image courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2020.
Conal McStravick, Mosaic LGBT Youth Group at Showroom London with Bruce Bayley, Conal McStravick and Adam Saad, 2017