Tifkas | Rosie Hastings & Hannah Quinlan Anderson

@Gaybar is a multidisciplinary art project and event series, led by the collaborative duo Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlan Anderson. Since their graduation in 2014, they have explored the notion of the ‘gay bar’ spatially, aesthetically and politically by re- and dematerializing it in a variety of formats. Through modes of social celebration, critique, and at times, mourning, @Gaybar commemorates the fight for queer spatiality, virtual and real, whilst discussing contemporary sociopolitical issues such as queer assimilation and the ever-growing threat of gentrification in London’s already scarce terrain of queer spaces.

@Gaybar sprung from “a strong frustration with London gay bars,” the couple tells me, as we smoke a cigarette in the spring sunshine, celebrating the install of their first solo exhibition, Tifkas at Arcadia Missa in Peckham, London. “Feeling frustrated with art as well: finding it really fucking boring, and not necessarily expressive enough of what we want to talk about,” they continue, as we discuss the limitations of the channels of showing art and what is accepted in galleries. “So we started talking about the idea of starting a gay bar.”

"Tifkas, 2015"

Tifkas, 2015

The gay bar is a historically contested space: highly politicized yet commercial, socially assimilating yet the actual gathering point for much of the queer community, a site of homonormative visibility that nontheless accomodates a range of homo- and trans-sexualities. It possesses an anxious, ambivalent energy of sexual and romantic anticipation, a sense of historical activism, free yet detained: completely performative, the ‘gay bar’ appears as a strangely suitable host for queer social practice like that of Hannah and Rosie. @Gaybar began as a series of parties at their studio, in which the tropes and conducts of queer spatiality were explored and discussed: “We’d make the bars and then we would install monitors within the bars, showing stuff that we had produced ourselves, like CGI images of imaginary gay bars and digital pride flags. We would curate the music, the Facebook group page, the invitation, etc. We were really specific with the materials we used as well: we always ordered cocktails glasses, which seems insignificant, but is actually a big part of the space we’re creating. We didn’t just want it to be some lame trendy party; there’s an object specificity to the materials we’re using, from the cocktail glasses, to the kind of alcohol we’re using, and the way we serve it. It’s all performatively a part of the work in itself,” they explain.

Tifkas, 2015

Tifkas, 2015

In accordance with the sociopolitical reality in which they operate and exist, there is no end of the social event and beginning of the ‘art work’ with @Gaybar – it’s a holistic yet aggressively critical project, fiercely opposing the removed, already-theorized, institutionalized critique of queer. “For our practice I think it’s important to have that open dialogue between the event and the show – they have to inform each other, otherwise the art in the show would really suffer. Our practice would lose what is legitimately good about it.”

In ‘actualizing’ and grounding queer artistic activism in a sociopolitical reality (both past, present and future), the context of viewership is considered, not just in terms of space, but form: “We really wanted to remove the straight gaze from our work,” they tell me, “to not just make ‘queer’ objects for people to come and look at. The art gaze can feel really hetero, and the dynamics between the art object and the viewer can feel really hetero.” By socializing the art works and the viewership (installing lightbox-art works in the parties, simulating the interior of a traditional gay bar), the conventions of consuming art are challenged.

Tifkas, 2015

Tifkas, 2015

Tifkas, 2015

Tifkas, 2015

With the rematerialization of queer iconography, @Gaybar not only examines contemporary or recent gay tropes, (such as the digital pride flag) but carefully revisits the multiple 20th century sites of ‘gayness’, but does so without assimilating that history. “We didn’t want to straighten out the history of gayness, or document it, or archive it in the same way that dominant history does by trying to create this trans-historical narrative of ‘being gay,’ they explain: “that wouldn’t account for the differences in experience of being gay; we don’t want to assign this narrative to this history, that has in many parts been erased, or not allowed to exist.” The tropes of gay mainstream culture are instantly recognizable, yet their significance and echo in visual culture are far too unexplored – falling short of description, words like ‘camp’ and ‘kitsch’ aesthetics are fiercely dismissed by Rosie and Hannah: “We feel that academic terminologies used to describe queer phenomena such as ‘camp’ and ‘kitsch’ is a vernacular appropriated by straight people to make sense of a messy queer experience.” Engaging the gay bar in a social art context calls for the invention of a new critical language.

For Tifkas at Arcadia Missa, the couple have focused specifically on the 60’s and 70’s Americana gay bar, situated within the context of the civil rights movement, a time they describe as “in parts radical, in parts problematic or exclusionary but always very charged; gay people were forced to take on this very political identity: they were seen as political bodies because of their mere sexuality.” Inspired from the 1993 novel Stone Butch Blues, best described as a deeply romantic novel documenting the pre-Stonewall lesbian bar scene and the civil rights movement, the local lesbian bar Tifkas provides a safe space within a largely threatening and unsafe small-town American town – a site of simultaneous celebration and mourning. Similarly, @Gaybar provides a narrative site – a conceptual, virtual and physical space for a pluralistic investigation of queer histories that, to many, are lost or suppressed today.

Tifkas, 2015

Tifkas, 2015

Between the radical political narratives of 70’s gay activism and today’s assimilated homonormativity there exists a heavy sense of melancholy – an emotional reaction to the highly politicized bodies of past and present. “We’re approaching the subject in a very emotional way,” they explain; “we’re very interested in the affect. What is the affective response to looking at these historical documents and more importantly, how can we engage critically with our affective response? I think that’s almost a more queer entry into history – our collaborator Sam Cottington describes it as radical sensitivity.” Centralizing emotion in past and present queer narratives grounds @Gaybar in actuality – embodied, for lack of a better word, although ‘embodied’ often itself refers to purely political and theoretical concepts. “It’s literally the shit you have to go through on a daily basis,” they add insistently. “That’s why the suffering in Stone Butch Blues seemed to fit so perfectly with this project. It’s so emotionally rich – a rich emotional landscape, which we can inhabit and relate to – allowing us to talk about that history without fixing it to ‘a narrative’ or whatever.”

The emotional landscape of queer histories is visualized in Tifkas through a set of CGI-images, depicting a barren and deserted landscape with a single road leading to nowhere, reminiscent of Route 66-type tropes of American road-trip stories. Installed on light boxes in the dimly-lit gallery-space, the melancholic landscape evoke a sense of a loss – a meditative mourning, perhaps, or a general sense of queer dislocation. Scattered objects – referencing specific moments from the book, such as the repeatedly-consumed Genesee beer, or a pile of books honoring past radical thinkers – position the duo’s work within a larger community or project of activism.

Things From My Burnt Down Apartment, 4th Street, NYC. 2015

We discuss the issues of carving out queer spaces physically versus virtually. Despite digital landscapes and spatiality often being thought of as ‘free’ and ‘tolerant’, the fight for queer space is no less relevant online, and hence the couple approach it with similar attention. “I think we’ve never made that much of a distinction – with creating a queer space online, you have so many crossovers to IRL, and the two really inform each other. The amount of homophobia online is quite similar to IRL – for example, if you’re trying to have like gay space online, you’re often trolled,” they explain, as they briefly describe the kind of virtual homophobia experienced with the project.

Still, @Gaybar, as indicated by their digital prefix, finds a strength in the virtual landscape, and particularly through CGI; an iconographically commercial and ‘straight’ medium, its association is subverted and reclaimed within a queer context. “For us, CGI it’s a really exciting medium,” they tell me whilst finishing their shared cigarette in the sunshine. “Its really magical, and it gives us a lot of access to landscapes that don’t exist IRL. We’re imagining new queer worlds, and creating imagery of those new worlds.” By literally importing past queer artifacts into virtual and physical spaces, the artists imagine new territories and landscapes that propose an actual renegotiation of queer spatiality.

Recent Posts

A Conversation about Ergonomic Futures

Lafayette Anticipation associate curator Anna Colin talks to artist Tyler Coburn about Ergonomic Futures, a speculative project engaged with art, design, science, anthropology and writing. In this interview, Coburn discusses the research, production process and network of collaborators of a multilayered project ultimately concerned with the futures of humankind. Anna Colin: When one comes across your museum seats Ergonomic Futures (2016—) in contemporary art exhibitions—and soon in natural history, fine art, and anthropology museums—they look… [read more »]

nils lange + saliva : l’eau des algues

L’Eau des Algues Two alchemists already aware of each other’s Instagrams meet for the first time in a gay sauna. They are swimming; it’s the Hood By Air afterparty in Paris. They are Lukas Hofmann and Nils Amadeus Lange. Months later, they meet again. They are on the edge of yet another steaming pool; it’s the Manifesta Biennale closing event at Cabaret Voltaire. They are performing the perfume titled “L’eau des Algues.” Head notes: Zürich… [read more »]

Toward a Low Key Voting System Where Votes Are Actually Considered | Adrian Massey

While reading A Very Short Introduction to Game Theory, I came across the following passage, “If you want people to vote, we need to move to a more decentralized system in which every vote really does count enough to outweigh the lack of enthusiasm for voting which so many people obviously feel…Simply repeating the slogan that ‘every vote counts’ isn’t ever going to work, because it isn’t true.” I was jarred. For me, anecdotally knowing… [read more »]

Tough Luck | Tyler Reinhard

When life is being super unfair, just do what we all do: suffer the consequences. I wake up and the first thing I do is check my phone. A convenient euphemism for using Facebook’s machine learning techniques to discover which 300 entries are statistically most likely to stand out from the tens of thousands of brain dumps my friends and family have produced over the last 48 hours. Impressed by what Facebook provides, I think… [read more »]

America Is Hard to See: A Guide to not being depressed about US electoral politics this November

In order to make sense of state politics in the birthplace of statistical marketing and the internet, one has to be wary of the effects of these technologies on the country’s popular media. In a time when our news and advertisements are tailored to our pre-recorded political opinions, it can be especially difficult to empathize with differing political views. Likewise, learning about the histories of state politics is not encouraged by platforms that profit from… [read more »]

On self-care and the election | Eva Saelens

We can get together and laugh about it. We can heave sighs and express disbelief, but it’s never enough. This presidential election year has lasted for years, and they sit on citizens like a slick film. We feel touched by an unshakable germ, invaded by a blood-sucker, afflicted by a social cancer, drained of the plump vitality of life and the amazing liberty of choices, and transformed into a cynical, depressed shrivel. After being touched… [read more »]

Swarovski Crystal Meth at National Sawdust

Swarovski Crystal Meth, a collaboration between Ser Serpas, Daniela Czenstochowski and Gia Garrison for the National Sawdust “Selkie Series” performances, curated by Alexandra Marzella. Music composed and produced by Daniela Czenstochowski Poem by Sera Serpas Sound Edit Mateo Majluf Vocals Sera Serpas, Gia Garrison and Daniela Czenstochowski All Images Olimpia Dior i went to the desert con mi mama outlet store shopping is fried onto mi conciensa, big bags, wins bigger losses fragmented lux economy… [read more »]

Hasbeens and Willbees Auction @ Romeo Gallery

Shop items from the most recent Hasbeens and Willbees luxury auction now! Featuring Bjarne Melgaard, Bror August, Women’s History Museum, Lou Dallas, Hermes, Gautier, and more. All photography Dillon Sachs Styling Avena Gallagher Hosted by Rome Gallery NYC


What is a piece of clothing that “works”? Who is working whom? Is the one who poses the one who actually “works” hardest? The S/S 2017 collection of Berlin-based, Swedish- Vietnamese designer NHU DUONG entitled ‘WORK COLLECTION’ plays with the ideas of professionalism, leisure and appropriateness through a range of garments that are inspired by work outfits and hobby uniforms. Overalls, raw denim outfits, kung-fu pyjamas, biker pants, baggy tights and gloves, bomber-jackets, bomber suits,… [read more »]

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene | Agustina Zegers

Preparing to Welcome the Chthulucene is a text made up of living exercises to accompany Haraway’s theorization of the Chthulucene and her upcoming book Staying With the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Haraway posits that not only should we name the Anthropocene carefully (including the terms Capitalocene and Plantationocene within its narrative) but that we should also be using this crucial ecological timeframe to move towards a dynamically multi-species, “sym-chtonic“, sym-poietic future: the Chthulucene.… [read more »]