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Sasha Steinberg: What’s Your Drag?
Mar 8, 2014 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm| Donation Based
(New York, NY — February 9th, 2014) Be Gallery NYC presents Sasha Steinberg: What’s Your Drag?, a fantastical exploration of the evolution of Sasha Steinberg’s queer literary comics and a look inside his creative process. Curated by Catherine Melendez, the exhibition features three series of Sasha’s work, as it has developed over the years. On view at Be Fluent NYC.
Sasha is a cartoonist, essayist, and drag queen who grew up in central Illinois. Sasha graduated from Vassar College in 2009 with a B.A. in Modern Literatures. He spent a year in Moscow, Russia, researching queer activist art on a U.S Fulbright Fellowship. Sasha went on to receive his M.F.A in Cartooning from the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, Vermont.
Sasha’s earlier styles of work parody the noir, clean-cut aesthetic popular in comic books prior to the 1970’s. Playing off the attraction to vintage art instinctive of his generation, Sasha has created literature instantaneously pleasurable and accessible to readers. His comics, however, venture to a provocative level, exposing a culture unrepresented in former eras. He steals anterior aesthetics and infuses them with the hero(ines) and stories of queer and transgender culture. Using thievery as an art form is evocative of mopping in drag culture, the art of stealing—literally and figuratively—something which doesn’t “belong” to you. This theme of entitlement to identity pervades Sasha’s work. It traces the constructs of a history largely ignored as it begs the question of whether there is a “right” gender, class, or race.
Through Sasha’s work, which samples such diverse sources as the Stonewall riots of 1969, Russian prison tattoos, The Adventures of Tintin, a drag queen with homophobia-annihilating superpowers, and campy murder mysteries, we are confronted with the limits imposed on our own identities. It allows us to recognize the elements of drag in everyday life: the different hats we wear and roles we play. It invites us to depart from feeling false in these selves. Rather, we are encouraged to embrace the identities we crave, yet, due to social constructs, have been denied. To dress in drag is to experience the confidence and liberation of having control over one’s life, perhaps not without cost, not without anguish.
We all have the option to live in the shadows, or we can make the choice to come out of the closet. As you engage with this exhibition, consider for yourself and for your own identity: what would it mean for you to dress in drag?
Sasha was most recently published in the comics anthology QU33R (Northwest Press, 2013). His art and writing have also been featured in “The Cartoon Crier,” “Comics Workbook Magazine,” and SLATE online. His self-published series “Stonewall” was selected as one of the 50 best Short-Form Comics of 2013 (HighLowComics). For more information about Sasha and his artistry, please visit his websites: http://www.ahsasha.com/; http://sahsashas.tumblr.com/.