AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs “Queer Spirits” Book Launch

AA Bronson and Peter Hobbs Invocation of the Queer Spirits invoked historical queer and marginalized practices as a way to heal the past, critique the present, and project a more creative future.

Invocation of the Queer Spirits sought to evoke the spirits of the marginalized populations that played a formative role in culture. The events, which took place in New Orleans, Winnipeg, and on Governors Island during PLOT09, marked sites as places of future creativity, while infusing them with a sense of ghostly past. “In addition to the ritual invoking the spirits, the artists made a vow concerning the rest of their lives (and creative lives in particular).”

he publication of a new artist book by AA Bronson, with Peter Hobbs. Bronson, a New York-based artist best known for his 25 years with the artists’ collective General Idea, joined up with Toronto-based artist and academic Peter Hobbs to spin a tale in images and words of five performances, all titled Invocation of the Queer Spirits. The book, published in the United States by Creative Time Books and in Canada by Plug In Editions/Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, with support from Shelley Fox Aarons and Phillip E. Aarons, is now available in select bookstores through JRP Ringier and Distributed Art Publishers.

From 2008 to 2010 Bronson and Hobbs performed Invocations of the Queer Spirits, bringing together small groups of men—in Banff, New Orleans, Winnipeg, Manhattan, and Fire Island—in a secret group ritual that was different every time and yet always the same. Invoking the “queer” and marginalized histories of each site, the men performed something that Bronson has characterized as “a hybrid between group therapy, ceremonial magic, a séance, a circle jerk, and a quilting bee.” This book explores each site in five chapters of photographic images,  primarily by AA Bronson, together with a brilliant and often humorous reflection on queer animals, forest rangers, shamanism, and park sex by Peter Hobbs. A group of drawings by Chicago artist Elijah Burgher completes the 176-page volume. 

“Creative Time was thrilled to present Invocations of the Queer Spirits at PLOT09 at Governor’s Island in 2009,” said Anne Pasternak, President & Artistic Director, Creative Time. “We are equally proud of this evocative book, which so beautifully conveys the haunting performances it depicts.” 

AA Bronson founded General Idea with Jorge Zontal and Felix Partz in 1969 and lived and worked as part of the artists’ group until the deaths of his two partners in 1994. Bronson has since developed an independent practice that deals with trauma, loss, death, healing, and the reclamation of queer history and space. Formerly he served as Director of Printed Matter, Inc., New York. The author and editor of numerous books and essays, Bronson’s memoir, Negative Thoughts, was published by MCA Chicago in 2001. In 2008 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and he was recently honored by France with a Chevalier des arts et des lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters). His work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Jewish Museum, the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as other public and private collections internationally. 

Peter Hobbs is a Canadian artist who uses performance and installation to create site-specific works that deal with history and sexuality. He has exhibited at Mercer Union in Toronto, Galerie 101 in Ottawa, Latitude 53 in Edmonton, the Hartnett Gallery at the University of Rochester, the Art Store in Tokyo, the Nunnery Gallery in London, and more.    

Photograph by Michael Marcelle. 

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