Artist Emily Roysdon on the many facets of “queer,” playing with language, activism through aesthetics, and making the audience happy.
“Clock! Block! Block!”
Shouting this loudly and in quick succession with over one hundred other bodies in Emily Roysdon’s I Am a Helicopter, Camera, Queen (2012), I found myself inevitably shouting “Cock! Block!” I tried to remember clock, but I could not quite get the cock out of my clock. This linguistic stickiness is just one of the many sideways promises of the score Roysdon set out for her Tate Live Performance Room piece. In fact, this is a staple of Roysdon’s work: the persistence of an idea that rolls around in your head and on your tongue, an idea which slowly works its way up through your feet to percolate, finally finding an unforeseen home inside of you.
Emily Roysdon’s practice is the concept, the idea that comes to life in the form of bodies that take shape through photography, collaboration, or correspondence. Her work is the quiet choreography of language through simple and provocative images. A founding member of the feminist genderqueer artist collective, LTTR, Roysdon’s work has its roots in the language of community and conversation. Since her days with the collective, Roysdon has shown artistic works internationally from New York to Madrid to Prague, and was just shortlisted for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation’s Future Generation Art Prize in Kiev. In addition to art objects, images, and multimedia works, Roysdon also creates event scenarios that bring artists together in response to a specific challenge such as in 2011’s A Gay Bar Called Everywhere (With Costumes and No Practice) at The Kitchen in New York City. Roysdon and I connected online between London and Stockholm—Roysdon’s other home away from New York.