Guest curator and San Francisco Cinematheque director Steve Polta speaks each Wednesday with artists in the Screening Room exhibition certainty is becoming our nemesis, which was interrupted by McEvoy Arts’ temporary closure due to the coronavirus. The program is now available to view online in its entirety.
Steve Polta: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current artistic concerns or projects? Where are you answering this Q&A from?
Zackary Drucker: I am safe and secure at home in Los Angeles and very grateful for the many blessings in my life. It’s Earth Day (April 22, 2020), my dad’s birthday, and the kind of beautiful spring day that Los Angeles is famous for. There are carnations and poppies blooming in my garden, and pomegranate blossoms on the trees. For years I’ve been bouncing around, feeling like I’m maintaining a home that I don’t spend any time in, and now I’ve only got time at home. I’m working full-time (remotely) on a television project. I’m also writing a text for a performance and creating photographs at home.
SP: How does your film in this program relate to your ongoing practice or body of work?
ZD: Unison is the last film I made with Flawless Sabrina, which also includes many of my biological and chosen family. Different phases of it were filmed over several years. The film explores traveling through time to witness one’s lineage, speaking to our predecessors and successors, and pondering what it means for a lineage to end with a gender non-conforming body.
Working within limitations can be a tremendous gift, and this is one of those times when artists who are really committed to shifting our consciousness and shattering our social mores will shine.Zackary Drucker
SP: As you know, certainty is becoming our nemesis is inspired by McEvoy Arts’ exhibition Orlando, itself inspired by Virginia’s Woolf’s 1928 novel and Sally Potter’s 1992 film adaptation starring Tilda Swinton. What, if any, is your prior relationship to the work of these artists?
ZD: I’m a huge fan of Tilda Swinton starting from the moment that I saw Orlando when it was released on video in 1993 or 1994. As a young person in Syracuse NY, the media that I was able to find at the local independent video store and library were a lifeline, and Orlando was one of the first trans characters I recall seeing. It was so magical to see a boy character inexplicably become a woman overnight (if it were only that easy). It inspired my imagination and informed who I am today.
SP: The program explores themes of transformation, self-invention, and gender performance and suggests that ambiguity of identity can operate as an emotional survival strategy and act of defiance. Are these themes something you consider in your artistic process or as central to your work exhibited here?
ZD: Yes, I’m always looking for survival strategies from elders. I hope to live a long life. We should be so lucky. I think that trans people’s mere existence is a multiplicitous form of defiance everyday, even in isolation.
SP: In what way has your inclusion in this program (or in conjunction with the larger Orlando exhibition) impacted your view of the work itself?
ZD: Tilda Swinton, Aperture did an incredible job with Orlando—the Aperture edition and the exhibition. I’m thrilled that the exhibition has had a sustained life online where people can witness their brilliance.
SP: How are you coping with the current public health crisis? How has it impacted your approach to art-making?
ZD: I think the current health crisis deepens my commitment to human values. I think that it may change much of human behavior. There’s really no space for self-indulgence or narcissism in this time, and those are the values that our culture has been predicated on for many years. Working within limitations can be a tremendous gift, and this is one of those times when artists who are really committed to shifting our consciousness and shattering our social mores will shine. A lot of the bullshit will fall away. Few people will have time for petty, decorative or otherwise superfluous art.
SP: Lastly, what’s the last piece of art, media, or culture that exerted a profound impact on you?
ZD: This text message from Nao Bustamante on a neighborhood group thread today:
You can watch Zackary Drucker’s Unison (2013–2017) here. For more from McEvoy Arts at Home, click here.
Zackary Drucker is an independent artist, cultural producer, and trans woman who breaks down the way we think about gender, sexuality, and seeing. Drucker is an Emmy-nominated Producer for the docu-series This is Me, as well as a Producer on the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning series Transparent.