Barbershop: The Art of Queer Failure and more art by Ace Lehner

Barbershop: The Art of Queer Failure, 2019 - Ongoing
h = 135, d = 0.5 cm
Social Practice / Installation

Barbershop: The Art of Queer Failure(2019 – ) is an installation and social practice performance piece that applies the praxis of failure to the form of the barbershop. On the surface, the design, and function of the site-responsive work mimics a hetero-patriarchal, cisnormative barbershop. Barbershop forwards failure as a means of playfully intervening in a cultural location wherein typically heteropatriarchal, binary cisgender norms are produced and perpetuated, de-essentializing gender via a playful utopian space of porous, ephemeral queer/trans community. Giving clipper-style haircuts to anyone who wants to participate centers and opens questions about who “belongs” in a barbershop and about how binary gender aesthetics perpetuate. Barbershop invites participants based on a shared interest in obtaining a clipper-style haircut and potentially a commitment to queering space via collective praxis of trans failure, de-essentializing identity, and cultivating community around a shared interest in failing to replicate heteropatriarchal, cis-supremacist norms. In exchange for what I dub a “queer failure” haircut — because it fails to be successful owing to my amateurish abilities, because there is a certain open-ended aesthetic of queer haircuts being anti-successful and reflecting queer aesthetic commitments, and because the exchange
is not monetary, participants will engage in an act of queer world making before their haircut grows out. The activities associated with the haircut are negotiated via an intimate conversation that transpires during the haircut, which is also observed by folks in the installation.


Ace Lehner is an interdisciplinary scholar and artist specializing in critical engagement with identity and representation. Lehner's writing on art and visual culture has appeared in Art Journal, Cultural Politics, Dilettante Army, REFRACT, The Journal on Images and Culture, and Feral Fabric, as well as several anthologies on contemporary art and visual culture. Lehner recently edited the book From Self-Portrait to Selfie: Contemporary Art and Self-Representation in the Social Media Age published by MDPI Books (Switzerland) and the Trans Visual Culture Project, the first-ever issue of Art Journal dedicated to trans visual culture. Lehner is currently working on a book entitled Trans Representations: Decolonizing Visual Theory in Contemporary Photography and guest editing (with Chelsea Thompto) Trans New Media Art as Embodied Practice, a special issue of Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus. Their work has appeared at the International Center of Photography, New York, NY; Geary Contemporary, Millerton, NY; el Museo del Barrio, New York, NY; Gallery La Central, Montreal, Canada; SOMArts, San Francisco, CA; The Wassaic Project in Wassaic NY and in June of 2022 Lehner will have a solo exhibition at Practice Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.
Lehner holds a PhD in Visual Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, an MFA/MA in Fine Art and Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. Lehner is currently Assistant Professor in Art and Art History at the University of Vermont.

exhibited by:

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