Saturday July 29th marked the opening of the San Diego Art Institute’s most recent show, Millennial Pink, curated by Lissa Corona and Marina Grize. Millennial Pink, the color, could easily be called the undisputed “IT” hue of the last few years. While previously light pinks were synonymous with the innocence of baby girls and all other means of gendered marketing, this tone has grown more sophisticated, up and past our previously held ideas of gender expression much like the millennial generation itself. In this show you’ll find artists following this same meteoric rise and expansion as they present an expanded idea of identity along the queer spectrum.
All of these works do the important job of championing the voices of queer artists but two in particular stand out. Erica Cho’s Golden Golden and Zachary Drucker’s At Least you Know that You Exist both situate the millennial generation in the broader landscape of Queer history. Drucker’s video was created in, “an archaeology of the Uptown New York City apartment that legendary queen Mother Flawless Sabrina has inhabited since 1967.”
The artist repeats snippets of gleaned advice over shots of dress up and exploration, ultimately preserving the history of Mother Sabrina and facilitating the passing of a legacy from one “lost” generation to the next. The piece culminates in the statement , “Because of you, I know that I exist,” an increasingly pertinent sentiment as one considers the millennial’s relationship to connectivity and technology. This generation is not only more accepting of sexual and gender difference than any before, but exceedingly diverse and unquestionably the most highly documented group in history. From this point on queer people will be able to look back and discover intimate details of the lives of people just like them, a sense of community and belonging that cannot be overstated.
Cho’s video looks in the opposite direction, towards the future. The two main characters travel across Los Angeles county to ask a psychic with a pair of conjoined crystal balls what the future holds for their relation or friendship.
The jitters of an undefined situation strike a familiar chord. The pair see themselves self actualized in soft technicolor lounging in the park and sharing a sweet kiss in the swaying shade of an old tree. Adoring a lover in public is a common fantasy, but unfortunately the violence and danger that act can incite due to one’s gender and sexual orientation has not yet become a thing of the past. The vulnerable optimism in Golden, Golden looks hopefully towards the future where queer individuals will be freed, if only for a moment, from the constant vigilance of fights for self defense and acceptance.
Ultimately the artists in Millennial Pink are not urging you to forget everything you know about color, they are giving you an opportunity to examine and build on those foundations. Their use of pink can still mean things like, tenderness, vulnerability, and ethereal beauty but these traits are no longer strictly feminine.The feminine does not require weaponization to be worthy, it is no longer the inverse of the masculine, nor are they mutually exclusive. Their pink is a site of pride, celebration, visibility, and the reclaiming of softness and humanity in a world that champions the opposite which is, in and of itself, and act of radical strength and bravery.
Millennial Pink runs through Sunday Sept 3rd, 2017. For events connected with this and future exhibitions, visit SDAI’s website HERE
Feature image via SDAI