The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Ben Oblivion, “All The Stars Explode Tonight” (image courtesy the artist)

Ben Oblivion

Age: 24

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Artistic Medium: Performance and Installation

Who are you and what do you do?

I am an artist and attention whore who is trying to come up with material for a very exciting and revealing autobiography, which will be read by all.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

Tabloid scandals, Thomas Kinkade, and a personal crisis.

Describe your coffee order.

Americano with half of a sugar packet

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Ask me after I’m dead. (It will probably be my funeral.)

What constitutes a perfect day?

60 degrees and breezy with lots of layering possibilities.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Mernet Larsen: The Ordinary, Reoriented at the Akron Art Museum and Bridget Moser, Jacob Koestler, and the Vault at SPACES Cleveland.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

Astral projection.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I’ve never told a lie.

What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?

Where do I get off?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Demanding brief answers to complex questions.

What did you make when you first started making art?

Self-portraits inspired by Egon Schiele before I realized how much more fun it is to be self-aggrandizing and vain.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Tea in the shade darling.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

“My Love is An Anchor” (2004) by Kate Gilmore, or maybe the portrait of Imelda Marcos and her family by Ralph Wolfe Cowan

What are your plans for pride month?

Looking down my nose at people, fully aware that it’s covered in blackheads.

What is the future of queerness?

I don’t know but I hope it’s ugly and loud and full of cathartic pain.

Name one guilty pleasure.

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but I feel truly bad for liking “Japanese Boy” by the musician Aneka.

Greatest queer icon of the internet: BabadookMomo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?


Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

No, and we could use a few more queer artists here as well. Come to Cleveland! It’s very cheap!

How do you stay cool during the summer?

Baby, I’m always cool.

What is your favorite type of milk?

The stuff Charlize Theron bathed in during Snow White and The Huntsmen.

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...

One reply on “Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Ben Oblivion Is Inspired by Tabloid Scandals and Thomas Kinkade”

  1. I’m sorry but I’ve been reading these all month and they are a sad attempt at making anyone heard in our community… the thing that sets the tone is the phrase “we pick a different queer each day”… first off that is a word that has a sensitive history, some people like it, others don’t… “queer people” or “person from the queer community” for me is less insensitive where the word “queers” feels condescending. Also because hyperallergic represents a diverse group of people that aren’t all a part of the LGBTQ+ community, using our reclaimed slurs doesnt exactly feel appropriate.

    also the questions are really not great. They don’t dig at a deeper understanding of the community or the artists themselves but instead each article asks what feels like a stock list of stereotyped caricatures put into question form, which yet again, feel insulting. The questions themselves are sort of leading questions. The only good question is about representation, but that doesnt tackle any other issues from within the community. None of the questions feel tailored to any of the artists and as a result it feels more like a “which queer archetype are you?” quiz. Why don’t you just ask “are you a pitcher or a catcher?” This isn’t what pride month is about… it’s not about giggling over queer internet memes.

    When the policital climate is getting increasingly more hostile towards minorities across the board, how is a series of lgbtq+ puff pieces supposed to help? I’m all for lgbtq+ weirdness, but actually let these people speak for themselves… give them an open ended prompt either about being queer and being an artist or even what pride month means to them, but by asking these questions you’re taking away their ability to put their identity in their own words; instead their words are filtered through some internet, drag queen centric vision of what queerness is… basically what I’m saying is that as wonderful as the opportunity is to give the stage to a diverse group of queer people, it sadly misses the mark for good, honest and unfiltered representation.

    I kind of assume that the interviewer is a part of the queer community, but I feel like I get a better understanding of the interviewer through these questions because of what they focus on, which is a sticking point for me since its allegedly “queers in their own words” but it seems like it’s closer to “how do these artists relate to my experience of being queer?”

    Maybe I’m being a little harsh, but I don’t understand why you couldn’t have worked on editing short OP-eds by uknown queer artists… how is this drivel better?

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