Music

the bad grammar zine event in nyc was killer!

April 1, 2013
On Orchard Street in the Lower East Side, a block lined with art galleries, sits Strange Loop Gallery. In the past few months Strange Loop has been hosting Bureau of General Services–Queer Division(BGSQD), a pop-up queer book store and event space. This past Friday night BGSQD hosted BAD GRAMMAR.

By: Justin Allen, AFROPUNK Contributor

Started in the summer of 2012, Parsons The New School for Design student Yulan Grant contacted friends Justin Allen and Brandon Owens studying at the affiliated Eugene Lang College the New School for Liberal Arts in need of writers for a zine she was putting together about baby hair. Once printed, the issue landed in the hands of an aspiring curator who asked if the group would like to produce zines to accompany shows he was hosting at culturefix Bar and Gallery. Since this opportunity, the three young artists have grabbed the attention of PAPERMAG, queer culture website Catch Fire and haveBaby Hair traveling with zine archive the POC Zine Project.
Upon entering BGSQD Friday night, a long and narrow room with a wall lined with books on the right and adorned with framed Alice O’Malley photographs, the current artist in residence, on the left, attendees were greeted by a bar of wine and beer with $5 suggested donations beside a table displaying a glossy, black paisley-printed copy of BAD GRAMMAR’s second issue, titled GANG BANG. This issue, their second, features interviews with Chicago-based hip-hop collective the Banjee Report and rapper Cakes Da Killa. Toward the center of the room, behind a booth against the right wall, stood Owens DJing from his laptop, Grant leaning on the booth as her video art projected on the far wall beyond them and Allen shuffling through taking photographs. Starting at 7 PM, people began trickling in slowly. By 7:45 the book store was alive with movement and chatter and by 8:30 every copy of GANG BANG had sold out.
Buoyed on the energy of Owens’ eclectic mixing of hip-hop, house, techno, go-go, alternative rock and voguing beats as well as cups of red and white wine, the night transitioned into a reading of Allen’s interview with the Banjee Report before closing with a viewing of  Grant’s video art compilation. Digging through YouTube, Grant assembled such clips as the opening to the 1998 film Belly, D’Angelo’s music video for “Untitled”, CGIs of crystals and water and a recorded performance of voguing legend Leyomi Mizrahi, sometimes layering one video over the other or adding text, such as the hashtag #BLACKSUPREMACY to a slow motion clip of Beyoncé singing in Matthew Morrison’s face during the 2011 Billboard Music Awards. Most thought-provoking, the inclusion of a clip of the Rodney King beating.
Taking its name from the assumption that Black people are inarticulate, BAD GRAMMAR is a publication that focuses primarily on queer artists of color and their work and, much in line with the mission of the Banjee Report, seeks to create a space for queer identities that deviate from white-dominated, mainstream gay culture. This vision is evident in the cultural hybridity of the music and video at Friday’s event, pop culture a chest of sources to rummage through and reassemble and recontextualize for an alternative interpretation. BAD GRAMMAR is about being queer and of color, being an artist, being socially conscious and politically aware, about growing up on the internet, about being exposed to an array of different music genres, cultures and subcultures. BAD GRAMMAR is a curation of where all these things meet.

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