This article is part of Hyperallergic’s Pride Month series, featuring an interview with a different transgender or nonbinary emerging or mid-career artist every weekday throughout the month of June.
As anti-trans legislation threatens communities across the country, trans fem nonbinary artist and curator Pau Pescador is exploring the safe havens trans people have created for themselves. Next week, her exhibition A Place to Stay will open at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Pescador, who lives and works in LA, selected a roster of nine artists and started curating the show in April. Her own work is also included in the exhibition, which examines the ways in which trans people have found refuge in the face of bigotry, from intimate personal relationships to community events; all the works on view speak to individual strength and resiliency.
Hyperallergic: What is the current focus of your artistic practice?
Pau Pescador: At the moment, I am working on a few items. The first is a solo exhibition at my gallery in Los Angeles, Tyler Park Presents, which opens this September. In this body of work, I am thinking about my own domestic space as a safe haven for myself during my own gender transition — a small place of respite and safety (both physically and emotionally) from the challenges of the larger world around me.
As part of my early research for this project, I am curating an exhibition for the Los Angeles LGBT Center as part of Trans Pride that opens Friday, June 16. The exhibition, titled A Place to Stay, focuses on how trans people create spaces of safety for themselves during times of adversity. Artists in the exhibition include Pippa Garner, Patty Gone, Page Person, Reynaldo Rivera, Miller Robinson, Sammie Veeler, Zoe Walsh, Ryat Yezbick, and myself.
H: In what ways — if any — does your gender identity play a role in your experience as an artist?
While my practice has always asked questions of how the individual navigates the larger world around them, a lot of my work since my gender transition has geared toward, “How does my own body feel as it evolves?” Both with others in romantic engagements and while being seen in public spaces.
A few weeks ago, I performed a newer work titled “The Butt Wants What it Wants” (2023) at Situations Gallery in New York and Salon Silicon in Mexico City in which I explored — with humor and pathos — the challenges I have had struggling with sex and intimacy with others since transition, and being vulnerable. During the performance, I discussed personal encounters while I showed a video of myself attempting to have a sexual moment with a mannequin. Both subjects were naked as I awkwardly create a moment of intimacy between myself and this object.
I have now completed three longer-form videos that address my relationship to my own gender over the past few years. In 2022, as part of a solo exhibition for Pitzer College titled Working, I made a video in which I conducted a series of interviews with transgender individuals who work in government. My goal for the project was to focus less on specific hot button legislative topics and more so on gaining an understanding of what it is like to work in systems of government while transitioning. Were the subjects’ experiences positive or negative? How do their experiences echo larger concerns of trans rights at this very moment in the United States?
H: Which artists inspire your work today? What are your other sources of inspiration?
I always start by thinking about those in my own immediate circle who directly inspire me. Queer individuals I think of immediately include Daniel Ingroff, David Gilbert, Amir Nikravan, Mark McKnight, and my colleagues and peers whom I have known for over a decade. I am grateful to see their work often, and we are able to see each other’s work grow and evolve.
H: What are your hopes for the LGBTQIA+ community at the current moment?
I want the LGBTQIA+ community to not feel alone. First, individuals attempt to move through their daily lives while laws are being passed that directly affect them. But also with the community as a whole — feeling marginalized and feeling that their mistreatments are for them to solve.
The laws passing through this country addressing trans and queer rights affect EVERYONE regardless of one’s sexuality. It is an infringement of an individual’s freedom! I hope that during this Pride month, our allies — and especially those who support these laws — take the time and reflect upon this. We all deserve the right to feel safe in our bodies, relationships, and livelihoods.