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Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Rosana Caban Has Played Over 80 Rock Venues and Now Creates Experimental Sound Art Installations

LGBTQ Pride Month is now. Every day in June, we are celebrating the community by featuring one queer artist and letting them speak for themselves.

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.

Rosana Caban, “This work is on loan courtesy of the estate of David, Son of Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; and so on” presented at Sound Progressions at the Fridman Gallery, curated by Regine Basha (image courtesy the artist)

Rosana Caban

Age: 33

Location: Brooklyn

Artistic Medium: Sound Art

Who are you and what do you do?

I am from Puerto Rico, raised in Florida, and now live in Brooklyn. After completing several tours as a musician in 2016 and 2017, I was inspired to challenge the structured role of the audience and performer. Since then, I have been experimenting with alternative ways of presenting my work. Through the lens of my background, I have been using sound, sculpture, installation, and performance to probe problematic binaries, such as masculinity and femininity, good and evil, and technology versus human progress.

Most of my career has been in supporting roles for other musicians or artists, so I have been focusing on making my own work and taking a more dominant role in creative partnerships. It has been a a terrifying but rewarding process. I have performed at the Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, MoMa PS1, National Sawdust, the Fillmore, Webster Hall, and over 80 rock venues across the United States and Canada. I was also a Marble House Project artist in residency in 2018, as well as an Ace Hotel AIR in 2017.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

My conservative religious background, my dark sense of humor, and my lesbian identity.

Describe your coffee order.

I fluctuate between black iced coffee or an unsweetened iced latte.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Getting divorced (haha). For real, this is a hard one for me. Whether it’s from being bullied in middle school for being a dyke in the drumline or pursuing every kind of passion that has been reserved for men (like drums, audio engineering, video gaming, welding, etc.), I have become completely driven by breaking the stereotypes of what people assume I am capable of, and it is my greatest accomplishment to move forward with that in mind rather than let it stop me from trying.

What constitutes a perfect day?

A morning in my studio at work, Rockaway Beach, and one of those nutcracker drinks you can buy off the street.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Kevin Beasley: A View of the Landscape at the Whitney Museum.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

Never having to sleep.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I am not competitive.

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

How soon could you deliver to a client?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Religion and greed.

What did you make when you first started making art?

A site-specific multichannel audio installation in a music library that played six channels of my inner voices discussing how insecure they feel in quiet spaces that aren’t made for them while criticizing the lack of diversity in the collection that the work was installed in.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Hardcore shade.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

Anything from the Femme Maison series by Louise Bourgeois

What are your plans for pride month?

Playing a show or two in Brooklyn and representing at the Dyke March.

What is the future of queerness?

Hopefully an end to binaries and a lack of social hierarchy in the LGBTQ community.

Back in my day…

MySpace was a thing.

Name one guilty pleasure.

Watching the Bachelorette.

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

A pervading sense of existential angst.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

Yes and no. There is support when it’s a marketable commodity, such as pride-related programming in June. It feels like there’s a long way to go during the rest of the year.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

Hardcore shade.

What is your favorite type of milk?

Almond milk.

“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.

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