Queering the bro: Arenalodge exhibition on at Artspace

Kris and Will in Artspace. Photo by Ayesha Barmania.
Kris and Will in Artspace. Photo by Ayesha Barmania.

Bro-ness: “Men that trust each other and are able to be relaxed with each other,” according to Will, one half of art team Kris & Will.

“The problem is that American masculine bro-ness is often misogynistic and homophobic. Those things are bad, obviously. So we are trying to investigate those bro rituals in a way that’s a bit homoerotic and softer,” says Will.

The construction of ‘bro’ masculinity abhors the feminine and queer in favour of hyper-masculinity and homophobia. This sours the positive aspects of bro relationships and contributes to toxic ideas.

Through their exhibition, Kris & Will twist the bro relationship with post-queer re-imaginations of male relationships. They conceive of a bro relationship in which men can be comfortable with each other without needing to cry, “no homo!”

Kris & Will created the show and each of the videos, sculptures and photographs, specifically for exhibition at Artspace after being invited by Vincent Chevalier, the Media Art Coordinator for the gallery.

Chevalier had first encountered Kris & Will’s work on the Internet. Chevalier said, “Their art works equally well on the Internet [as in the gallery]. Practices that really interest me are ones that work really well in translation. Their work goes from performance, to photography, to video, to sculpture, to Internet memes, there is something productive and generative from all these transformations.”

The show is comprised of art of many media. There are choreographed videos in the back room of Artspace in which Kris & Will act out various performances drawing on the intimacy of their relationship and playing on aspects of bro-ness.

For instance, one video features the two men pouring various food substances on each other out of red Solo cups.

In the main showroom is a large reconstruction of a photograph of a screencap from one of their previous films, which has been printed on 8” x 11” paper and mounted on the wall.

On two walls there are large photographs of the artists subverting bro exercise rituals. There are two shirts hanging from the walls that had been used in previous videos.

And lastly, there is a sculpture constructed of beer coolers in one half of the room.

The show builds on the previous work of Kris & Will who use their art as a means of exploring masculinity, queer-ness, and their relationship with each other.

“Our art is based on our friendship with each other, and the trust is what we build off of. From there, we go into different modes and rituals, like drinking rituals and exercising rituals. We try to find ways to skew and morph those rituals that fit with our ideology,” said Will.

The exhibition opening on February 6 marks the beginning of Artspace’s ON Edge art series taking place February 6 – March 14.

There will be art workshops and lectures embodying experimental queer art. February 14 is a duo of queer sound workshops. February 28 is a workshop/lecture called TRANS*’PATAPHYSICS. March 7 is a workshop on film archiving skills. And lastly, there will be a participatory performance piece at that will connect Artspace with a gallery in Montreal over the Internet on March 14.

About Ayesha Barmania 45 Articles
Ayesha Barmania is a 4th year student in International Development Studies and Anthropology. At Arthur she mainly writes about local issues and campus affairs, but will take most things she finds interesting. Outside of Arthur, she hosts a radio show called Something Like That on Trent Radio (Saturdays at 8PM), is sometimes on the Arthur Hour (Saturdays at 4 PM), and co-hosts the Devil’s Advocate (Mondays at 2:30PM). She has an irregularly updated Twitter (@AyeshaBarmania). Typically spotted with a coffee in hand and rushing around because she’s made far too many appointments for a 24 hour day.