Kalup Linzy (5 stars)

Kalup Linzy

Washington Garcia, Glasgow, until Sun 27 Apr


New-York based Kalup Linzy is more Vaginal Davis than a ‘Paris is Burning’ starlet, more Judy la Bruce (Bruce’s alter-ego) than Hedwig. But it cannot be denied that all of these ‘drag abortions’ (as la Bruce would have it) are there in the performances and films that he has brought to Glasgow International.

Linzy’s mock soap operas and cod MTV-style pop videos would not look out of place on Manhattan Cable – a public access TV operation that let all the mad men and women in New York doll themselves up and act out. One could say that Linzy takes all of this and more as his subject matter, that his work is some kind of ‘meta-drag’, but that would be preposterous. It’s impossible to separate this ‘intelligent’ copy from the ‘stupid’ original – that is his slippery point.

In the seven-minute mini-soap ‘KK Queens’, Linzy appears as Dinah Cole, one of his many fragmented crackpot art femmes, being interviewed over the phone by an art world drone. Dinah doesn’t take any shit; she’s a tough cookie, but the mask slips and her fears of being ignored and rejected finally escape. In the room at the back of the gallery we are presented with more talented young women, this time singing their hearts out in trashy music videos. There are songs about anuses, chewing gum, girlfriends, boyfriends and ‘sweet berries’ – one can only guess what they are. It is impossible to enter into the content of every one of these divaesque-warblings here, but, damn, these girls can sing. Out in the light of the main gallery are paintings by another persona: ‘Katonya’, where the reduction of women to skirts and wigs says more about society at large than the world of the gallery.

If you like your chicks black, sassy and quick, then Linzy’s your girl. Yes, this work is about gender confusion. It’s about all the things that have been theorised to death and badly realised. You won’t need a PhD in Queer theory to understand it, but it might help.

Washington Garcia presents Kalup Linzy

  • 5 stars

Washington Garcia present the U.K. debut of New York based artist Kalup Linzy, whose carefully-scripted video vignettes offer satirical and subversive takes on pop culture, gender, race, class and art world politics. 'Part of Glasgow International 2008'

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