Drawn Together

With their queer artists' collective Boys Be Good, Christopher Cunetto and Jason Edward Tucker are finding that there's strength and artistry in numbers

Interview by Randy Shulman
Photography by Todd Franson
Published on May 17, 2012, 2:45am | Comments

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MW: What is the central idea behind the collective?

CUNETTO: Part of our mission statement is a series of questions. And one of the big things we think about when we're making our work, while we're dreaming up the movements that we do and the shows and the themes, is how are we relevant now? What are the things that we have to talk about and think about internally, inside queer culture before we approach culture more broadly?

TUCKER: Our shows are always centralized around themes that we feel are almost universal, not just to a queer perspective, not to just a male perspective, but to any perspective.

CUNETTO: It comes from a desire to make work and generate dialogue that is of the moment. Because that's what a lot of really great artwork is – this emotional and poetic expression of what your life is right now in this place that you're in, with your biography, your world and in your culture. And we – I – want the artwork to reflect that. That's an important thing. I look to artists, queer or otherwise, whose work really communicates those things and what's interesting is the kind of emotional moments that resonate across decades that we're still kind of dealing with.

TUCKER: They become generational.

CUNETTO: We're obviously at a ripe moment. Because in some states we have marriage equality and in the majority of others we don't. So as a young gay man in D.C., you're existing in this weird no man's land – we have rights and we feel pretty free, but people still get gay bashed, people still go to the hospital for hate crimes. States – just the other day North Carolina – are enacting legislation that will prevent gay couples from getting married. So we're at this strange crossroads. And culturally that's an important moment. Our work needs to reflect the importance of that – and record the importance of that. Because art is also a record of our world.

TUCKER: Art informs culture, culture informs art. It's an infinite process.

MW: How does Boys be Good operate? Do you apply artistic constraints to the group?

TUCKER: Boys Be Good is a collective. It's not us telling the boys what to create and then have them create it. We get together once a month or so, and we'll have these conversations about the themes that Christopher and I will come up with. But we in no way really influence what the artists should be doing. We really love them and their individual voices.

MW: How many people are in the group?

TUCKER: Nine artists, plus four performance artists.

MW: You're trying to encompass all variances of art forms.

TUCKER: Artists that have wider variety of what they are able to attain. We're looking obviously for a strong portfolio, but people that have variety in what they create. Most of the people within our group are not centralized in photography, not centralized in video, not centralized in performance art. They have the ability to move in between. And that's not required of our members.

CUNETTO: On our website we say, "We're artists, writers, performers and creatives who are less easily described." So it's really people making and acting in all areas of culture, whether its visual or performance or literary. And we don't narrow it down to just fine art experiences. That's something that we try to reflect in our events, too. It's not just hanging gallery work on the walls, but creative people who are making culture that kind of reflects things in line with the mission statement.

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