VQUEERAM is part of an ongoing collaborative film project initiated by Vishal Jugdeo in 2016 with Vikram 'Vqueeram' Aditya Sahai, a poet, activist and teacher based in New Delhi, India. This instance of the project is a documentary 'portrait' of Vqueeram, filmed over several days in January 2016 with additional footage shot a year later. Over the course of the 14 minute film, which takes place in both public and private spaces throughout Delhi, Vqueeram delivers several anecdotal accounts of his experience as a visibly genderqueer person living in the city. Through a mode of address that moves fluidly between direct and casual, Vqueeram’s stories and observations speak to the failings of language, of identity categories, and of the body as a site of any kind of ontological definition around sexuality or gender. Vqueeram’s meandering, although salient contemplations seem to suggest that any attempt at autonomy related to identification becomes futile within the cultural frameworks of family, community, love, civic obedience and ultimately, neoliberalism. Through the duration of the film, what becomes resonant is a convivial relationship between Vqueeram and Jugdeo. This relationship is evidenced by moments of laughter and banter that posit queer friendship and companionship as respite from the alienation–or perhaps a sense of nonbeing–Vqueeram experiences when moving through his world.
Other iterations of this project include experimental narrative vignettes based on Vqueeram's poetry, directed by Jugdeo and Vqueeram. The artists continue to work together, documenting the shifting realities of queer and trans life in India.
Vishal Jugdeo is an interdisciplinary artist who works with video, installation, performance and sculpture to construct experimental approaches to narrative. Weaving together strategies from television, both documentary and narrative cinema, as well as theater, he emphasizes the physical and psychical space around moving images, revealing the mediated process through which we understand the unfolding present. He has exhibited widely including solo exhibitions at the ICA Philadelphia, LAXART, Los Angeles, Western Front, Vancouver and 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica. Major commissioned works have been featured in Performa, New York, Made in LA at the Hammer Museum Los Angeles and the California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. Notable group exhibitions include Witte De With Center for Contemporary Arts, Rotterdam, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, INOVA, Milwaukee and Vox Populi, Philadelphia.
Jugdeo completed an MFA at UCLA, and a BFA at Simon Fraser University. He was a 2015 Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, and has received grants from Art Matters, Artadia, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, California Community Foundation, and the Canada Council for the Arts, as well as residencies at Skowhegan, BOFFO and the MacDowell Colony. Jugdeo has taught extensively at Cooper Union, Parsons School of Art and Design, California State University Long Beach, USC and UCLA.
SCREEN: VISHAL JUGDEO is organized by Nevin Kallepalli.