The digital platform that hopes to redefine “queer” art

The digital platform that hopes to redefine “queer” art

Written by Hannah Pham, CNN

If you’re in the market for grisly ceramic heads or colorful collages of gay sex among decommissioned soldiers, a new digital art platform has you covered.

Her goal: to elevate contemporary queer art in all its forms and make it easier than ever to bring it to market. “ believes that queer art should be kept alive not only for the sake of much-needed diversity, but also for the sake of eternal creativity,” the website reads. “ is a place to celebrate queer art and help it live, thrive and thrive.”

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Erdem and Ergül say they’re on the lookout for art that goes beyond simply dealing with the oddities of gender and sexuality. They are interested in all the ways in which queerness serves as a creative force in life—in form, style, production, and presentation.

A powerful platform was largely born out of Erdem and Ergül’s frustration with the London art scene and the limitations they felt it placed on so many artists. The art world forces queer artists into prison, the pair argue, treating the term queer “like a life sentence” and ultimately “tokenizing” artists who identify as such. With, they hope to provide a space for artists to have the freedom to interrogate queerness as it relates to their work beyond its meaning as an identifier of sexual orientation.

“This is when we first thought that a commercial platform could create an alternative source of income for queer artists,” Erdem and Ergul, who both identify as queer, told CNN in an email.

“We ourselves are trying to do something against the grain, in an arts sector that is hard to break into even if you do everything by the book, and in a wider cultural climate that is increasingly transphobic and xenophobic,” they said them.

“When a straight cis white artist is free to roam as he pleases, to be concerned only with aesthetic considerations, to come up with pure abstractions, why should a queer artist be restricted from talking about queer issues in an identifiable way to tick some boxes ? ”

London-based sculptor Alicia Radage is one of the artists currently featured on the platform.

With hyperrealistic silicone models of tongues, ears and breasts poking out of brass wires like bouquets, Radage’s work, she explains, is about breaking things apart to unpack what it means to be human, and dissecting the intersection of neurodiversity and queerness. credit: Alice Radage

“I like my work to be in the flesh and for people to be in the same space and time,” Radage told CNN. “And also it’s incredibly draining on resources, time, energy, money… What I can do, though, is spend a lot of time in my studio making a piece, photographing it and putting it in (a) online gallery. More people will be able to see it and engage with it,” she said.

Radage’s experiences with and with Erdem and Ergul are a welcome change of pace from the broader art market — they’re emotionally invested, she told CNN, but always professional. Their support allows her to create freely while still allowing her to earn from her work, she explained. (Radage, however, has yet to see any of her work sold through

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According to Stonewall, an LGBTQ charity based in the United Kingdom, “queer is a term used by those who wish to reject specific labels of romantic orientation, sexual orientation and/or gender identity.” While the term has historically been seen as a slur against LGBTQ people, the queer community reclaimed the term in the 1980s — and today it’s often a preferred identifier.
Erdem and Ergül say they want their platform to break conventions around the queer. takes an even broader approach to the term, but perhaps closer to the word’s original definition as an adjective — as “deviating from the norm” in every sense, and not limited to art created by queer artists. Its website calls for giving “center stage and exclusivity to the marginalized and tokenized members of the institutional art world,” and is a space open to any creator whose work or aesthetic embodies this holistic definition of “queerness.”

A piece for by artist Nicky Broekhuysen, whose work focuses on binary code. credit: Nicky Bruckussen

“One of the beautiful things about the term queer is (that it’s) inclusive,” said Gemma Rawls-Bentley, chief curator of Avant Arte, an online platform that brings together emerging artists. “The definition of queer by its very nature should be quite broad and inclusive.”

“It’s fantastic to have a safe place for queer people,” said Rolls-Bentley, who identifies as queer. “But a space where people who don’t identify as queer can come and celebrate and learn and share experiences with queer people is a really powerful thing that we need.”

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But while Rolls-Bentley argues that there is still merit in carving out space for queer artists in larger museums, auction houses and galleries, Erdem and Ergül have different priorities.

“Most galleries don’t understand the specific needs of queer artists. For most artists, feeling like you’re really valuing their work, not just by putting a price on it, but by understanding exactly where they’re coming from with their work, is far more important than how much they sell.”

Top image: The landing page on QAP.Digital, which rotates regularly through artwork and works within the platform’s collections.

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