Play like a Caterpillar, Sting like a Butterfly: Coral Short

“Stop Beating Yourself Up”
Picture 1
When MIT grad student artist Ian Wojtowicz exhibited his analysis of the five most interconnected people based in Montréal using the obsolete social network “Myspace” at SKOL Gallery in 2010, Coral Short’s name came up as one of the “heretofore little-known” subjects whose profiles contained the most “viral potential.”

Of course, to anyone in the trans-national queer art world of San Francisco, Vancouver, NYC/Brooklyn, Montréal and Berlin, Coral is one of the most known artists in our cosmology.

Known for her performance work – like Insiders where she wraps willing participants in pink stretchy fabric and has them dance around as if trapped in a queer bubble – as well as for her delicious short film programmes curated for Radical Queer Semaine and Pervers/cité, Coral is an artistic social butterfly who seems to have the ability to constantly return to the cocoon and emerge with an even queerer project.

She’ll be showing us “Stop Beating Yourself Up” (and not following her own advice) on Friday, March 8 at GAME ON AU CHAT BLEU.

The following is an interview from Jan 2, 2013

JA: Stop Beating Yourself Up uses some word games, and the literal vs. figurative “puns” that are popular now in performance art. What is the significance of the word play?

CS: This is a phrase that we often to say to good friends but we rarely say it to ourselves.  Sometimes we are gentle with people around us, but unforgiving to our own selves.  This performance deals with our inner worlds as feminists and queers. This work is just a visceral visual showing of our internal struggle.

JA: Can you tell me what you were going through when you conceived of this piece in 2005 that made you think of a self-punishment theme in this way?

CS: I was living in London England when this piece appeared to me. I went there to get the best Masters degree in Fine Art I could, but it did not come without blood, sweat and tears. Since this time, I became obsessed with giving good camp in my work with bright colors and a high-quality queer aesthetic. But even in my playful work there are always serious undertones.

JA: Queers/lesbians/artists tend to oscillate between being defiant/unapologetic and then being self-flagellating and unforgiving of our human flaws. Why do you think queer/women artists are so hard on themselves?

CS: It can be a struggle to make a living in a world where performance art is undervalued, but active feminist performance artists are fierce survivors of the patriarchal machine. I try to be accountable to my international communities around me and represent things that exist within our realities in visual performances.

JA: You’ve been based in Montréal again after being nomadic for many years. What keeps you coming back? Why so much travel, Ms. Short?

CS: Montréal is one of the most vibrant cultural feminist queer cities out there.  It is up there with Berlin and New York, but it still remains a secret to the larger world (to some extent).  Montréal is one of the few remaining metropolises that is affordable to live cheaply and create art, which I have been doing here for almost a decade now. But I love travelling and seeing what different aesthetics and politics are happening internationally.

JA: Edgy is one of very few women’s performance festivals I know of in North America. You have been programmed in it before, but what did you find spoke to you particularly about the sport/gender theme for 2013?

CS: When I saw the theme I was pleased that it fit with this piece I created in my mind seven years ago, so I am delighted this performance can finally come to light. I get many ideas on a regular basis which ruminate in my mind until they are ready to be actualized. Here are some other radical projects I am working with this winter:

Hamburg: and

– posted by @JordanArsen


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