Press "Enter" to skip to content

The Campaign for Atlanta: An Essay on Queer Migration

By Andy Ditzler and Joey Orr
On May 17 and 18, “idea collective” John Q presented its latest work, The Campaign for Atlanta, inside one of the city’s iconic tourist destinations: the Atlanta Cyclorama at 800 Cherokee Avenue in Grant Park.
The Atlanta Campaign was a Civil War military strategy that moved Union troops through the state and into the city. The Campaign for Atlanta is a performance essay about queer migration into urban areas. This “essay” is not written, but rather takes the form of a live event in the interior space of the Cyclorama. Like John Q’s previous event Memory Flash, this latest work is based in archival research and rediscovered artifacts.
The Campaign for Atlanta tells intertwining stories of migration, memory, and the visual representation of history. The Cyclorama’s large-scale, panoramic painting of the Battle of Atlanta is itself an artifact that traveled from city to city before landing permanently in Atlanta. Created and exhibited in the decade just before motion picture projection, the Cyclorama occupies a unique niche between landscape painting, war memorial, and immersive pre-cinematic experience.
A century after the Civil War, a young photographer and gay man named Crawford Barton left his hometown of Resaca, Georgia (site of the earliest skirmishes in the Atlanta Campaign). He migrated to Atlanta and then San Francisco. In the heady days between Gay Liberation and the AIDS epidemic, he created photographs of San Francisco gay culture that are now considered iconic. The Campaign for Atlanta features Barton’s exhilarating 8mm movies of 1970s San Francisco, Resaca, and Atlanta, archived and unseen for decades.
Presenting the story of Barton’s journey within the Cyclorama’s space, The Campaign for Atlanta uncovers connections between 19th-century landscapes and 20th-century counterculture; between military history and museum display; and between new types of movement: in the panorama, on the cinema screen, and from country to city and back again.
John Q is an idea collective consisting of Wesley Chenault, Andy Ditzler, and Joey Orr. Since forming in 2009, John Q has presented programs and exhibitions with Flux Projects, Mondo Homo, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco. John Q has received the Artadia Atlanta award and one of Elsewhere’s 2013 NEA Southern Constellations Fellowships. Their first event, Memory Flash, received Honorable Mention for the Allan Bérubé Prize and was named Best Public Art Performance by Creative Loafing magazine.
The Campaign for Atlanta is the culmination of a series of talks sponsored by the GLBT History Museum during the 2012 National Queer Arts Festival and the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. This project is supported in part by a grant from the LUBO Fund, the Emory University Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts, and Studies in Sexualities at Emory.

Comments are closed.

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.