Decriminalised Futures currently features thirteen artists working on ten selected projects across a range of mediums.

EXHIBITION

Throughout 2020 the project artists will develop and create work on themes such as sex work, embodiment, performance, gender, migration and mental health. The final works will be shown at an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the scheduled exhibition for September 2020 has been pushed back to 2021. We’ll share further updates when we know more.

ARTISTS 2020

+ YARLI ALLISON

Yarli is a Canadian-born-Hong Kongese artist based between London and Paris. She uses sculpture installations and moving-images to build fictional worlds based on her diasporas background, and to reimagine coping tactics as survival tools in foreign places.
One of her East-Asian queer experimental film Elephant The Allison (2018) was inspired by the body-shaming culture in her ethnic’s common upbringing. The film illustrates an alienated obsessive tree-hole explorer Elephant, who tries to find the like-minded others in London’s dating world that leads to intimate encounters.


In this new work with Decriminalised Futures, Yarli collaborates with Letizia, a Spanish poet and sex worker who migrated to London years ago. The time-based installation explores the story of Letizia, as an ‘ideal’ character for the clients’ imagination in a duality screen setting. The image of the ‘ideal’ is initially an aesthetically / mentally pleasing product as well as a coping mechanism. We are interested in revealing the less visible material reality behind its curtain, by combining Letizia’s creative writing, voice performance, and Yarli’s digital modeling as a semi-fictional documentary.
The still image is a video work in virtual reality production (2020 JUN).

Yarli is collaborating with Letizia Miro for this project.

+ KHALEB BROOKS

Khaleb Brooks is a multi- disciplinary artist and researcher exploring blackness, transness, the body and collective memory. Through painting, printmaking, performance and video his latest works blur the lines between history and futures in an attempt to explore the possibilities inherent in liminal spaces.

A liminal space is in between worlds, dislocation, non- citizen, without rights, non- being.
Meshing the black queer figure with underwater creatures in paintings and entering transcendental states in performance utilizing poetry, repetition, costume, ritual and scent, he forces his audience to confront the literal and social death of black trans people globally.

As a part of the Decriminalised Futures programme he will be exploring his own body once again and the lack of choice apparent in the commodification of ones identity for survival.

+ CHI CHI CASTILLO

Chi Chi Castillo first felt the thrill of DIY art as a queer teen obsessed with skateboarding, punk, and erased history. Bored by the art of men, she sought to collaborate with others in her world to create zines, music, and visual art for the consumption of those searching for something different. Chi Chi is a DIY filmmaker from California, she’s also a sex worker, chill actress, awkward skateboarder, and is sometimes funny but usually shy.

Chi Chi is collaborating with Semaj Peltier to create work for this exhibit. Castillo and Peltier began making films together in 2017, with their first film being “Chi Chi’s House Party”, a smut film highlighting the queer underground in Oakland, CA. Peltier and Castillo are now continuing their work together under the name “Stone Dove”. They’re excited to invite you into Stone Dove’s dream world.

Chi Chi Castillo is collaborating with Semaj for this project.

+ CORY COCKTAIL

Power exchange architect and escort; post disciplinary artist with an interest in the intersections of the body and technology, narrative design, contemporary dance, interactive fiction, migration, gender, and sexuality.

Transsexual descendant of indigenous Turtle Islanders and European peoples. Attempting to bring a sex worker digital interactive fiction experience into the world for Decrim Futures. Pronouns he/him and they/them.

+ HANECDOTE

Hanecdote, an artist and sex worker with chronic pain who specialises in hand embroidery which speaks from a place of emotion.

Interested in portraying everyday life, inspired by art history but making sure it is much more inclusive and beautiful. Art is therapy, justice, communication, love and a human experience.

+ LIAD HUSSEIN KONTOROWICZ

Liad Hussein Kantorowicz is a performance artist, activist, and perpetual migrant from Palestine-Israel living in Berlin. Her performances deal with de-exotifying and de-mystifying the positions of so-called sexual or political deviants. In them, the body is used as a site to exhibit its multitude of marginalities, as well as being a tool to transgress and contest the boundaries of the public space, and to call into question the public’s ‘democratic’ limitations.
Her recent performances include: Unidentified (2019) shown at the Schwules Museum Berlin, When You Died, The City Died with You (2018), which premiered at the Cosmopolitan Weekend at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Pussy. An Ongoing Performative Research (2018), which premiered at the 10th Berlin Biennale, No Democracy Here (2017) a film which premiered at CPH:DOX and has since been screened at over 20 film festivals. Her work has been presented at Impulstanz Festival Vienna, Taxispalais Kunsthalle Tirol, Athens Museum of Queer Arts AMOQA, Kampnagel Hamburg, Transmediale festival Berlin, Ljubljana’s City of Women Festival, Berliner Festspiele, Arcola Theatre London and more, and in the streets, social centers and queer bars in Europe and Palestine-Israel. The apocalyptic 2020 will see the release of her first Album, “Nothing to Declare”. Liad is a longtime sex worker and a spokesperson for sex workers’ rights. She’s the co-founder of Berlin’s Peer Project for migrant sex workers at Hydra e.V. in Berlin, and she founded the term ‘sex work’ in hebrew.

For Decriminalized Futures Liad decided to pay tribute to the work of her sex worker sisters in Palestine-Israel who fight for the rights of all sex workers by commemorating, retelling and re-enacting a historical event in their recent history.

+ LETIZIA MIRO

Letizia is a Spanish queer who migrated to London 7 years ago. She is a London-based sex worker and poet. Letizia has been involved in sex workers’ rights and political organising in Spain as well as in the UK.

When she is not monetising her erotic capital, she writes poetry that digs into the meanings of sexuality and existential pain. She has performed and published her work both in English and in Spanish.

Letizia is collaborating with Yarli Allison for this project.

+ AISHA MIRZA

Aisha Mirza is a writer, DJ & trauma-informed counselor and indian head masseuse. They are also founder of Misery @miseryparty, a mental health collective and sober clubnight for QTIBPOC.

Aisha is a stripper at Harpies Strip Club, an agony aunt at gal-dem.com, and a dominatrix.

+ ANNIE MOK

Annie Mok is a trans writer-artist, musician, and videogame streamer. As Sally Sativa, she acted as an indie porn star. Her comics work and sex work came together with her fictional 2019 comic book about artist and camgirl Sally Silverhaze in Orgasm Addict: A Comic Book Mixtape (excerpted here). Annie tweets @heyAnnieMok.

Annie and Danica plan to stream a live script reading of My Dinner with Andre, with Annie playing Wallace Shawn and Danica reading the part of Andre Gregory, in spring/summer 2020 on twitch.tv/heyanniemok.

Annie is collaborating with Danica Uskert for this project.

+ SEMAJ PELTIER

Semaj Peltier is a model and video artist emphasizing experimental paradigms to document the culture of feminine identities and ecosexuality.

Peltier will be working alongside Chi Chi Castillo, a brilliant artist she is frequently in collaboration with under the production name “Stone Dove”.

Semaj is collaborating with Chi Chi Castillo for this project.

+ DANICA USKERT

Unsustainable is a graphic novel written by Danica Uskert based on her experiences in sex work. The story reflects on the stigma leveled against sex workers, and the divide drawn between Hollywood’s “legitimate” actors and adult performers. A kinky parable about love, perversion, the (tainted) relationship to the body and self as they relate to performance, and the healing & destructive power of role-play and BDSM relationships.

Danica Anna Uskert-Quinn is a mixed-race, pansexual, polyamorous film director, producer, video and performance artist, curator, writer, and the editor-in-chief of filmandfishnet.com. As Danica Darling, she is also a cam girl, porn performer, and professional submissive. She currently resides in Hollywood with her dog Elvira. Danica can be found on Instagram @danicauskert.

Danica is collaborating with Annie Mok for this project.

+ TOBI ADEBAJO

Tobi Adebajo is an anti-disciplinary artist with a primary focus on Sound, Movement, Visual & Written works, from exploring sex & desire, to audio-visual pieces they curate to create unique harmonies.

Tobi’s work is an affront to rigid traditionalist ideologies that exist with/in Science, Art & Society at large. They confront the toxic effects of indoctrination and its continued effect on humanity. Tobi presents evidence of varying levels of communal/spiritual language that we inherently possess but don’t always have the tools to access, framing this language as a basis for collective healing / liberation.

At the end of 2019, Decriminalised Futures made an open call for artists to propose new work around themes of survival, resistance and visibility for an exhibition and chapbook publication, which would also be included here in our online archive. A list of topics from SWARM’s Festival of Resistance were provided as a thematic prompt and we asked that the proposed work be easily translatable to print for the chapbook and uncomplicated to install for the exhibition.

Deadline for proposals was January 2020. We received close to 90 submissions. In mid-January a selection panel gathered to discuss submissions and ultimately chose 10 final projects. This panel included E Sanglante, Imani Robinson, Jay Bernard, Morgan M Page and Hello Rooster.

Each project was assigned £1000. Decriminalised Futures suggested that a maximum of £250 be used on production of the artwork, with £750 kept as payment. The initial deadline for final works was June 2020.

To support the selected projects, Decriminalised Futures arranged with ICA London that four curators from their team would act as mentors to the commissioned artists. Each project (individual artist or collaborative pairs) would have up to 1 hour with their mentor per month. Mentors were asked to provide feedback on developing work, connect their mentees with other artists and curators who might be relevant to their work, and to provide resources in the forms of invitations to exhibitions, suggested readings, or suggesting other artworks that might be relevant to the artists’ work or process.

Artists were introduced to their mentors via email and encouraged to communicate via email, phone or video call. We also organised drop-in meet-ups in the ICA’s studio room which were initially scheduled for February, April and May. These were optional and artists not based in London were welcome to join via video call. We successfully held our first meet-up in February 2020 and many of the artists were able to meet for the first time.

When the COVID-19 pandemic developed and lockdown began in the UK in late March 2020, we switched the meet-ups to virtual group video calls and extended submission deadlines. Artists were informed that their work was not expected to be submitted until the end of the year, and that any changes to their work due to the circumstances were understandable. Mentor support has remained available to the artists throughout. At the end of October 2020, we were able to provide a small amount of extra financial support to the artists for additional access costs they may have incurred working on their projects. Each project was invited to claim up to £200 for anything they would identify as an additional access cost.

We are thrilled by the work the artists involved in this project have been able to make, often under difficult circumstances.