right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

ephemera / evidence

June 20, 2012 at 6:30 am

I think Alison took these pictures…

This was us interpolating ourselves into the Pride parade here this past Saturday. I drew/painted and built two giant banners (and got them across town) in like 4 hours the afternoon before the parade? (That question mark signifies my disbelief that this actually happened.) There was awesome help from Christiane, Chris G, Olivia, Nathan, Alison, Katie, Rowan, & more. The other big banner said “Free CeCe“. I also drew & painted the ACT UP banner that you can see obscuredly in the background of both photos…

Featured in these photos are the awesome nitili, kidbijou, and patchthatsweater!

Also, Meg Powers & I made these stickers, with a bunch of slogan inspiration from other friends… Meg drew the drippy triangles & the grody tongue-&-fingers combo, I drew allll the letters! We passed them out during the parade, people really liked “Stonewall didn’t have sponsors” but were somehow not as into “Gay END Marriage!”


(downloadable 400dpi print version)

“get em, print em on sticker paper, cut em up, destroy the souls of your fellow townspeople”

Here’s what my friend & colleague newspaper publisher Jacob P. Berendes has to say about witnessing your work become garbage, in this recent interview in the Providence Phoenix:

It’s stuff like seeing it as trash blowing down the street. It was raining one time and I saw somebody use it as a hat. Really it’s nice to see your project be just another thing in the world, you know?

[hey, to participate in this process, you can SUBSCRIBE to Mothers News, the monthly paper that Jacob creates!]


(downloadable 400dpi print version)

There’s something to be written about making things that are evidence of our existences in the world, that just go into the world & become part of it & our lives are built out of and around them. I’m pretty sure that’s the role my posters & prints have always played since I started making poster-type images maybe 17 years ago. (The image I am tracing this back to can be seen at the bottom of this post. 1995! Senior year of high school! Aaahhh!)

I don’t know what to say about it exactly. I LOVE making things that become objects in the world, it’s deeply important to me to see things I’ve made become integral to people’s understandings of themselves, it’s always a privilege and an honor. More recently, though, that feeling is surrounded & hemmed in by serious frustration about not being able to set time aside to make art that might not have a literal “meaning”, always feeling like my art has to have a meaning for other people. I am pretty sure that I’m discounting my own existence and *forcing* things into meaningfulness for others because of the satisfaction that comes when other people tell me that something I made means a lot to them.

And obviously, every object has a meaning whether the creator intends it to or not, so every artist must take on the responsibility of being a “meaning-maker” rather than just an “image-maker” (differentiation thanks to Chicava HoneyChild, in this good interview about race in performance!). Can I reconcile the pride I do truly have in making images & graphics that people identify with strongly, that create important evidence of my & my friends’ precarious reality in the world… with my own need to push myself to make art that is seriously personal, looking inward & helping me figure stuff out, rather than make art that looks outward and fills a need of my community?

… I know that the art I make that is personal will have meanings for other people too, and be useful to them… and that the outward-facing art I’ve made has also been deeply personally indicative & fruitful. There’s no escaping making meaning, there’s no escaping making something that reflects myself. I just have to not be scared to approach it, to not set it aside as impossible, to let myself work on it every day, to not hold myself to untouchable standards on it…


OKAY HERE YOU CAN LOOK AT A DRAWING I MADE IN HIGH SCHOOL
This was a pencil sketch that I made of me & all my friends (in some weird russian context), I photocopied it for them and they loved it. One of them colored it in. About a year ago it showed up on facebook……!

commemorate a riot with me

June 14, 2012 at 4:15 am

I wrote a bunch of stuff about why I have been organizing around queer issues & to build queer community here in Providence, but that writing got erased, which is okay, it was important but it wasn’t well-articulated enough yet!


(photo by the amazing Jori Ketten)

The brief version (in run-on sentences, sorry mom!) is that I am working hard with others to create/assemble/coalesce a queer community here, and to spread awareness of queer & trans existences and the languages & concepts that make space for those existences, so that trans & queer people in Providence don’t have to think: “all the trans people I’ve known have moved away” or “I am the only person I know using a pronoun that wasn’t assigned to me at birth” or “it’s going to be impossible to get people to understand me as male & to use the right language for me” … all of which were things I thought frequently three-and-a-half years ago. Not that it’s perfect here now… but we’ve made huge progress & have really built something real. There are still a bunch of things I worry & stress about around my existence as a queer trans guy… but those worries aren’t that I am alone in my queerness here — that has truly changed.

At this tumblr: queerlilrhody.tumblr.com and below, you can find the giant roster of events that a loose group of queers here (including me) has been working to put together for June of 2012! We’re commemorating the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots not by saluting our corporate sponsors & buying a lot of lite beer, but with conversations, celebrating our creativity, working on oppression, dealing with difficult stuff, & figuring out the next steps forward. Oh, and abolishing prisons & ending the state institution of marriage altogether? Those are on the way. ;)

… and yes, this organizing work is also my “real work”.



Thursday June 14: 6pm, 186 Carpenter St.

“Liquid Sky” screening: queer/lesbian/trans sci-fi film set in 1980s New York City. A conversation about femme visibility will follow the film. Trigger warning: this film contains graphic depictions of sexual violence

Friday June 15: 4:30pm, Bank of America building, Kennedy Plaza.
Join Jobs With Justice & other local organizations to address Bank of America’s foreclosures in Providence. BoA is one of the sponsors of the “Pride” parade & festival — as queers, we’ll be there to denounce them for “supporting” “the LGBT community” when it’s fun & visible, but then with their other hand, undermining our lives and those of our neighbors in our communities.

Friday June 15: 5:30pm, Kennedy Plaza side of Burnside Park downtown.
Queertical Mass – Circus on Wheels! Join us on a ride where we can celebrate the strength and power of riding together without the need to “dominate the roads.” An accessible, fun bike ride for everyone! CIRCUS theme!

Friday June 15: 7:30pm, Libertalia Automous Space, 280 Broadway.
“HOMOTOPIA” screening. “Love revolution, not state delusion! Race, gender, ability, & desire are reworked through an anti-colonial queer struggle creating a visual rhythm of melancholic utopianism”

Saturday June 16: 10pm-2am, AS220, 115 Empire St.
FUCHSIA IS NOW #7 presents SMEAR CHAMPAGNE: “a killer and amazing anti-corporate Stonewall commemoration party: voguing, fashion show, homemade BMI/ASCAP-free beats and so much birthday cake and yelling!” All ages / anti-corporate / anti-assimilation queer [dance] party, basement zone transported to downtown for one night. $1-5

Saturday June 16: 9pm-1am, Mathewson St Church, 134 Mathewson St. downtown.
Youth Pride Inc. Pride Night Dance Party! Free, open to ages 13-23, alcohol- & drug-free, food & refreshments provided.

every Sunday: 6-8 pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
Rhode Island Anti-Sexism League meeting

Sunday June 17: 7pm, AS220.
“Heart Breaks Open” screening. A feature film which recasts biblical narratives around HIV positivity, transmasculinity, drag and the sisters of perpetual indulgence. $1-5 donation

every Tuesday: 5pm-6pm: BroadMed Building, 557 Broad St, enter from the parking lot.
ACT UP RI – Open Meetings. AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power: fighting for healthcare, justice, and to end AIDS locally & worldwide.

Wednesday June 20: 6-8pm, Location TBA.
Queer prisoner letter writing! Meet and talk about the prison-industrial complex as related to queer lives & politics, connect with prisoners and write initial letters to them.

Thursday June 21: 8pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
Unite & Fight! a Forum on Queer Liberation & Feminism. Rhode Island Anti-Sexism League & allied organizers present a panel & discussion about historical and future shared struggles of queer people and women against sexism, heterosexism, transphobia and homophobia… and thinking about what a queer anti-sexist grassroots organizing community can do here & now. Join us!

(Queer Liberation and Class Struggle reading group, postponed to sometime later this month! Details TBA. email chrisgang@gmail.com for more info.)

Friday June 22: 7:30pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
“Madame Satã” screening: a film based on the life of infamous Brazilian drag performer & outlaw João Francisco dos Santos. Discussion will follow on homosexuality & masculinity in the Portuguese-speaking world.

Sunday June 24: 11am to 6pm,
Queer Farm Day at Scratch Farm in Cranston, with potluck lunch & gender-variant- & body-positive swimming at 1pm. Come for all or part of the day, help harvest & spend time in safer queer rural sanctuary space with queers & allies! email secretdoorprojects@gmail.com for more info & directions.

Thursday June 28:
43rd ANNIVERSARY OF THE STONEWALL RIOTS

Thursday June 28: 7pm, New Urban Arts, 705 Westminster St.
“Queerly Present” evidence of queer lives in Providence: readings, spoken word, performance, music, etc.

Friday June 29: 7:30 pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
“The Raspberry Reich” screening, a pornographic, violent & satirical Bruce LaBruce film that explores the ‘innate radical potential of homosexual expression’. Followed by discussion about queer resistance and violence.

Friday June 29: 8pm, 95 Empire Black Box, 95 Empire St.
“How To Be A Lesbian In 10 Days or Less” + “You Just Need A Little Lipstick”: ‘motivational speaker’ performance, and new work in progress, by Providence theater-maker Leigh Hendrix. $5

Saturday June 30: 2-4pm, Libertalia Autonomous Space.
AIDS and gentrification reading group. More details TBA.


YESSSSSSSSS see ya in the streets!

heretical certainties

June 8, 2012 at 4:28 am

I have some work in a really neat print portfolio put together & printed by Erik Ruin, a friend & political graphic artist who now lives in Providence! The portfolio release show is tonight, Friday June 8th, 7-late at Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket, featuring performances by a bunch of bands including Katrina & Julia’s band Groke, my housemate Work/Death, and the Assembly of Light choir (Providence’s neo-spiritual ladies’ rock/metal vocal performance group which includes the awesome artist/scientist/singer/general-renaissance-person Tatyana Yanishevsky), and more!

Come to that if you can, check out the work & the music, it should be great! Here’s the successful kickstarter page for the portfolio project, with more info about it.

My drawing is about Joan of Arc, who I’ve felt really close to since I was a little kid, in many ways that aren’t totally explainable and some that are (and some that have only become clear over time). Making this drawing, I followed my instincts & desires for it, and tried not to over-rationalize it or to demand much logic of myself… I wanted to make an emotional thing, not a “poster”. Not that a poster can’t be emotional, but… I needed to frame the endeavor differently for my own purposes.

It was really nice to get to make a pencil drawing as a “final” object — as opposed to having to turn it into a print myself. It was also really interesting to draw a person, since I rarely draw people (it’s possible that I have been avoiding drawing people for years!!??). Even though I was drawing from a photograph (this is Renee Jeanne Falconetti in the 1928 “Passion of Joan of Arc“, by Carl Theodor Dreyer, a seminal movie for me when I saw it in 1998 or so), it felt like I was drawing an actual person, and then at times it felt like I was drawing myself, and I felt like I was very bad at it, or very naive, but I proceeded with confidence and delight, and then I felt like I was my (confident/naive) high school self, specifically at a certain stretch of time when I was drawing a self-portrait in 10th or 11th grade, which I have a distinct memory of and which I know is a drawing in which I look extremely masculine, and I remember at 15-16 years old being both stranged-out by that visible masculinity as well as satisfied by my drawing of myself… so, making this drawing was a very strange & evocative time, and that’s all I am gonna say about that!

In the two images above, I’m tracing the long text onto the paper over a lightbox (thanks Will K. for the gift of that very useful tool!). Visible here are, on the left, the main drawing of Falconetti, in progress… under/around her eyes, the initial drawing of her that I started on the other side of the paper and then abandoned as too crappy (classic style!)… at the bottom, Joan’s signature… to the lower right, the printed-out text I am tracing from (thanks to the HPLHS for the very authentic Oldstyle font!)… and down to the middle of the page or so, my hand-traced 11.5-point serif letters.

Tracing these letters was totally grueling and a hassle, but they look sooooo goooood! Most of the hassle was using a 2B (soft/dark) pencil lead because I wanted the letters really dark to contrast with the H (hard/light) lead that I used in most of the rest of the drawing (this contrast can be seen clearly in the first image in this post). With the architect’s-lead-pointer sharpener that I use, you can get a very sharp point, but with a lead that soft, the point dulls fast, and the tip breaks off about every third time you sharpen it. But it got done! There are few things I love more than turning a uniform computer font into a destroyed hand-drawn font…

The final print! Printed on the offset by Erik Ruin. If you want to get a copy of this and the rest of the portfolio, 12 other images of heretics & witches, email him: erikruin (a) gmail.com.

Here’s what I wrote about the drawing / myself / Joan, for the portfolio:

Of all the heresies for which Joan of Arc was tried, refusing to wear “woman’s dress” was the one that her ‘Assessors’ came back to again and again, over the course of their lengthy questioning — and it was the charge for which they eventually convicted and executed her. The trial transcripts reveal Joan’s impressive resolve and spiritual conviction during the harsh rhythm of her inquisition. For me, as a person who spent much of my life under pressure to dress and look “more feminine”, reading and re-reading those documents is a difficult empathetic and vicarious experience. The quote in my drawing is unedited: I didn’t want to present just the parts of her testimony that resonate with my experience, but also her religious zeal & dedication to her God.

The signature in the drawing is the actual Joan of Arc’s signature… and the text is from p.87 of the T. Douglas Murray version of the trial transcripts, which you can look at part of right here on the internet.

There’s a lot more to write about how I think & feel about her, and my ongoing & always-developing relationship to women dressed as men, “women warriors”, “passing women”, etc….. but it’s gonna have to wait for later! For now just read these two awesome young adult books, The Blue Sword and Alanna… *then* we can talk about women warriors.


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