Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
'What it's like to grow up pour': in conversation with Hazel Meyer
Friday, April 9, 2021 | Lauren Fournier
I first met Hazel Meyer in Toronto back in 2016, on what was my “first official studio visit” as a newbie curator. I was humbled by Hazel’s generosity as she walked me through her work in what is now the Ubisoft building in west Toronto, inviting me into her world. Hazel’s artwork was well-known to me, then, as an iconic queer artist whose work was advancing conversations about queer bodies and queer histories. I was a big fan of her No Theory, No Cry, which I first encountered at Art Metropole, and which encompassed the feelings of painful pleasure and strife of my own experiences reading theory in art school. Nestled in a womb of cheerleading pompoms, pool noodles, archival photographs of now-deceased Toronto lesbian activist Chris Bearchell next to photographs from kink and leather communities, Hazel and I had an easy rapport. We were enrapt in conversation about what it might mean to have a women’s anal erotics as part of the “queer theory” conversation (where's the feminist butt stuff?), as the artist’s jean jacket depicting little buttholes hung above our heads. When we stumbled upon the shared fact of our working-class/poor backgrounds, our bond solidified—we had found a rare kinship, and we weren’t going to let it go. Indeed, finding out this fact about the other led me to find some power humming below the surface of things—below the surface of the city—a humming loud like industry, and a bit hidden, like shame. It was true: being “out” as someone from a low-income family seemed all too rare in a contemporary art world, where the assumption of middle-class-ness and even, at times, upper-middle-class-ness was the norm. This, too, in the institutions that surround contemporary art ones (like the university).