The South is brimming with new and undiscovered talent. From musicians to textile artists, these radical artfags are defining a new queer aesthetic in the Southeast.
These are my personal picks for ALT Artists to watch in 2016.
Max Levine (image above) documents sweet, sexy, sometimes melancholic moments. Undoubtedly a storyteller, her lens captures perhaps her most personal relatable character: the “queer protagonist escaping suburbia,” a bit goth, an ethereal portrait of the angelic unknown. She shines not only as a photographer but also a stylist, working within a crew of fellow femmetastic artists such as Maggy Swain (Maggy’s displaying work via our Nudes NYE Decay/Decadence art show). Be on the lookout for Max’s highly stylized art-horror film with a feminist twist and also an artillery of femme-identified artists called GRITS (Girls Raised in the South) that Max is organizing in 2016.
Speaking of our Decay/Decadence show, Southern raised babe-of-all-trades Amari Tariq will be providing a plethora of jams (never a genre loyal mix) for our New Year’s Eve at 368 Ponce. “I have always loved dance music and dance parties so that has influenced me to try to bring that energy back to the scene–especially the queer scene. I wouldn't really call myself a DJ because that feels too limiting. I just want to create spaces for people to feel good, make friends, and hopefully make connections that will shake up the norm.” Amari is part of Panty Drop, a monthly Mary’s dance party that caters to a less homonormative (and much needed) queer crowd. Enjoy the mix above, titled “9PM”, with some prime party picks via Soundcloud.
Juilliard-trained Diem Massad Al-Jouni, aka Dangerous Rose, approaches dance performance with attention to the erotic: “Sexual encounters inspire me. I like to seduce and dominate when performing.” And Diem does just that, demanding audience attention with a rather regal expression of sensuality among flashing lights, fog, and choice electronica. Though growing up a bit in New Orleans, Diem’s connections to cities all over the Southeast are vast. (We are always delighted to receive a visit here in ATL; I personally hope to see this sweet soul soon.) Diem’s avant-garde dance mastery can be enjoyed via this City and Colour video, shot in various locations in the Southeast in true regionalist fashion.
Jessie Giles is a Georgia–born and raised textiles artist and professional bookbinder. While textile work is often regarded as delicate and “feminine,” (as it is a domestic art that has typically been practiced by women throughout history), there is a balance of strength and fragility in Jessie’s artistry. It is cohesive, compelling, and challenging to the viewer’s ideas of the medium as art. Jessie draws from personal emotive experience and sociopolitical theory while celebrating the process of creation. Her work deals with misogyny, androgyny, trauma, mental health, interpersonal relationships among other subjects.
ATL-based visual artist Gently Used hails from a generation of post-postmodern Internet madness, and from the respective realm of Instagram aestheticians, has been able to create a worthwhile commentary challenging approaches to art and issues of identity. Gently is concept and queer maximus radness all in one. Much of their work is based on “mining the idea of gender as virtual and how that interrelates with our increasingly online lifes.” Gently is currently working on a series of GIF’d still lifes “composed of common objects that clash in order to disrupt classical conclusions” which “pose objections to both gender censoring and a gendered censoring.”
Many know Taylor as a performer and one of the prime organizers and promoters of Southern Fried Queer Pride (a necessary entity in ATL especially for POC and trans queer communities). In 2016, she will be further expanding her repertoire to create more music. Her Soundcloud currently has two minimalist tracks, refreshing yet warm, that I’ve been playing on repeat. Reminiscent of romantic 90s trip-hop and vaporwave dreamscapes, it is exciting to see the multi-faceted ways in which Taylor expresses herself. New tracks and a music video with a fantastical narrative (directed by Sara Vogt and shot in scenic locations around Atlanta that relate to Taylor’s experiences) will debut in January.
Rodriguez Maf is an illustration/printmaking student at SCAD in Savannah with a fondness for the abstract. Much of her work reminds me of Kadinsky thru graffiti sunglasses, chaotic yet geometric, a tasteful balance of old and new. The concept of synaesthesia has influenced many of her abstract works, while other illustrations are whimsical relics of culture and community related to Maf’s life. Raised in Venezuela and in Costa Rica, the influence of the tropical is very present in her varied mediums of work. She also DJs, and like any DJ worth their salt, loves the energy of connecting to experiences of joy thru music and dancing. Mixes can be listened to here and here.
Jonathan Bouknight is not a new artist, but as an ever-evolving filmmaker (few and far between in ATL), he has been on point this year. Interaction with objects (domestic mostly: clothing, food, housing supplies) and processes of movement are common themes in his films. Focusing past cinematography, through detail to sound, music, composition, texture, light, displays of human emotion, and editing, Bouknight emphasizes film’s nature as a combination of art forms. He has collaborated with Suno Deko (his partner, David Courtright), performance artist Kirstin Mitchell, choreographer/dancer Erik Thurmond, designer Megan Huntz, and recent Low Museum resident/artist Jordan Stubbs with music by Pamela and Her Sons (above). MOCA recently featured Bouknight’s surreal and beautiful “Nightingales,” leaving us excited to see what he creates next.
Femignome is my favorite band in ATL right meow. The original duo (and sisters) Anna and Kate have been releasing reverb-drenched ditties a la social media for a hot minute now. “Teenage Monster” has stained my Peter Pan–syndromed brain forever, their Velvet Underground covers on Soundcloud are pure bedroom pop perfection. Their closest ATLien kin is their mathy-melodic stepbrother Warehouse (fronted by dreamboat Elaine Edenfield); otherwise, Atlanta severely lacks wistful indie-garage groups at the moment. Grrrl pop is a beloved genre for me and while abundant in other cities, especially Shangri-LA (a la Shannon and the Clams, Vivian Girls, Girlpool), I feel super fuzzy and blessed for the bubblegum goodness that Femignome has brought to our Southeastern urban hub. Femignome has recently undergone a lineup change; comprised of Anna and Heavy Eyes member Roderick Davis, they’ll be performing January 7th at Parts Unknown.
DJ COLLEGE LESBIAN
Last but not least is Chris Neutrál, tre cool non-binary music lover who has a radio show on WRAS called //spaced out//. “In electronic music today there is a wide array of genres and styles. //spaced out// touches on the extremes of that spectrum. On any given night you can expect to hear anything from deep trap to experimental bass to Japan future to nightcore. My goal is to epitomize the entire SoundCloud, where music gets deleted every day.” Currently their show runs Wednesdays 10 PM to midnight (however, with WRAS’s upcoming schedule revamp, time is subject to change). Closing out this list and 2015, here’s a mix for your enjoyment!
Sunni Johnson, Arts Editor at WUSSY Mag, is an Atlanta musician and zinester.