Queer art exhibition shut down by homophobes reopens to record-breaking crowd

A queer art exhibition, which was shut down after organisers caved to complaints from right-wing critics, has reopened to record breaking visitor numbers, following a successful £195,000 crowdfunding campaign.

The “Queermuseu: Queer Tactics Toward Non-Heteronormative Curating” exhibition was closed in September 2017, just over a month after opening in the Santander Cultural Center in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Opponents had accused the exhibition of promoting blasphemy and paedophilia, reports Artforum. 

However, the show – the country’s largest exhibition devoted to queer art – has now re-opened at the private School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, after a crowdfunder to reopen it in a new venue smashed its $5,000 target, raising around $250,000 (£195,000).

Fabio Szwarcwald, the school’s director, said the exhibition set a new record for weekend attendance, with 5,000 people coming to see the show on Saturday, and a further 3,000 on Sunday, reports The Art Newspaper. 

An open letter signed by Brazilian artists was also published in October, condemning the “rise of hate, intolerance and violence against freedom of expression in the arts and education” in Brazil.

The Queermuseu exhibition showcases 263 pieces of art by 85 artists, including José Leonilson, Cândido Portinari and Lygia Clark.

Any extra money raised from the crowdfunding initiative will go towards educational programmes.

LGBT+ rights campaigners protested against the closure of the Queermuseu exhibition in September 2017. (EAV Parque Lage/Vimeo)

Organisers had reportedly initially planned to move the exhibition the Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Art, but were stopped following opposition from the city’s mayor Marcelo Crivella.

LGBT+ activists protested against closure of the exhibition in September 2017.

Announcing the closure of the exhibition,Santander Cultural Center said in a statement on Facebook: “We heard the complaints and understand that some of the works in the exhibition ‘Queermuseum’ disrespected symbols, beliefs, and people, which is not in line with our view of the world.

Curator of the show, Gaudêncio Fidelis also criticised Santander’s response, telling Artforum: “We’ve closed off dialogue. During the time of the dictatorship we had all sorts of problems—censorship, etc.—but nothing quite on this scale, all done in one stroke.”

“When art is not capable of being inclusive and generating positive reflection, it loses its greatest purpose, which is to elevate the human condition.”

Earlier in August, a government minister in Malaysia was accused of acting to “demonise” LGBT people, after the senior official ordered an arts festival to remove portraits of local LGBT activists.

Watch the video campaigning for reopening of the Queermuseu exhibition below: