The 13th Annual Buffalo Infringement Festival has come to an end, I survived. All of my dreams came true (especially the wet ones).
In 11 days I made quite a few costume changes, lost my mind and found it, and saw some of the most incredible art I have ever experienced in my life. I won this year’s poster contest, so it was extra special.
Thank you Montreal for giving us the Infringement Festival! I was a naked caterpillar riding my trike wearing nothing but glitter and a smile for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and World Naked Bike Ride, Marie Antoinette me was part of a nude cake fight and fetish party for Wet Dreamland where hotties suckled at my frosting spewing teets, my porn collages and newest paintings hung proudly.
I was Dazzlingly Inappropriate. I read a story based on my drawing that will eventually be a children’s book collaboration. I spun rainbow ribbons in a garden. I was a purple sparkley unicorn and Bob Ross in the same day. My rainbow butterfly wings were my day look. Oh, and no big deal but my best friend dressed up like a dog and shit in my mouth as I was Divine for our tribute to John Waters, then my dick was a monster and I was a mud shark girl for a Frank Zappa tribute to end the festival.
It was a wild wild wild ride. I am so honored to be part of this festival. My life is better because of it. I have a chance to truly be ME and express whatever weirdness lies within.
To be uncensored and completely free is priceless. I am already planning for next year! A whirlwind of every kind of art imaginable takes hold of my spirit.
I know that (US) Thanksgiving is based on the colonization and degradation of indigenous people and the murder of innocent turkeys. Nothing has changed, in fact it has only gotten more blatant.
Currently Native American protesters are being drenched with water cannons in sub zero temperatures, detained in dog cages, and other inhumane atrocities in North Dakota defending their water, defending their people from the tyrannical American government. I see Barack Obama putting a medal of freedom over Ellen Degeneras’ neck and cry at the nice words he says about diversity and being free and LGBT in our country but still in the back of my mind wonder why he hasn’t tried harder to end the disaster in Standing Rock?
In Buffalo NY there are proposals involving a ban on conversion therapy.
I love the movie But, I’m a Cheerleader because it was a satire, it showed the absurdity of changing a person back to a “normal” sexuality. People are born gay, straight, transgender, and so many in betweens and there is nothing you can do to change their beautiful diversity. It is disgusting torture.
Mike Pence is pure evil, as are all of the white supremacist butt nuggets that Trump is putting into power. I heard today that he appointed several women, these chicks must really be groovy to align with the pussy grabbing cheeto hate monger.
What is happening in this world? The rise in rape and hate crimes will be monumental.
It is hard to give thanks when it seems the apocalypse is now. It is hard to just suck it up and celebrate, like nothing is wrong.
I have family members that proudly voted for Trump and I have to invite them into my home and share a meal with them. By voting for him you made life more dangerous, you voted for racism, sexism, and bigotry. You are taking away civil liberties and building a wall of ignorance and greed around yourselves. I am embarrassed to sit here and watch you choke on your white privilege.
Regardless, my dinner table is still going to remain all inclusive. Everyone is invited. It is a safe place for all people. Only love reigns in my home. I will fight your ignorance by educating and loving you.
I am thankful that (for the time being, who knows what dark fate is in store for us) I have freedom of speech, my art remains bold and uncensored.
I am thankful for my blood and extended family of activists and fellow free spirits.
I am thankful for my health, for my ability to change the world with my words, art, and voice.
I am thankful for my cats, their cuddles cure anything.
I am thankful for music, for riot grrl rants, for poetry, for the expulsion of rage into art and positivity.
I am thankful for other people’s thoughts, for the ability to learn from my mistakes, to live with kindness and resolution.
I am thankful for our right to protest. No matter how bad it gets we need to stand tall and take back our world, letting them know that evil will not win.
I am thankful for this blog, Forgetthebox has allowed me to express myself freely for the world to read, I have gotten other opportunities and have made so many smart friends 🙂
Montreal- city of strange adventures. Random stories of our adventures included but are not limited to: A man wearing a full vinyl gimp suit with addidas sneakers. Then there was the masseuse wearing a leather jock strap and the best part is that he only spoke in puns, a dom who speaks in puns, he is now dubbed The Punisher.
My favorite moment was fat fuck poutine squirrel. I looked over to see just the ass and tail of a giant chubby squirrel sticking out of a garbage bag, he then pulled out a styrofoam container, hulked it open, and demolished the rest of a poutine, I could hear him eating, it was the cutest thing I had ever seen! The Leonard Cohen Memorial, all of the incredible street art, and a two story vintage shop with a vegetarian cafe were the other cherries on this cupcake of a vacation.
The Montreal Infringement Festival was incredible as always. I had a show everyday I was there. The Rusty Shuttle was an amazing new venue, I love the underground loft DIY artspaces of the world. Barfly was punk rock brilliance, I thoroughly enjoyed being sandwiched between two Folk Punk bands. Everyone in this city is so sexy! I couldn’t even handle it.
I was honored to be part of the World Infringement Conference, my presentation was spur of the moment. We had planned on showing our art work, but unfortunately hanging did not happen, so I decided to turn my presentation time into a guerrilla art gallery. We donned our Pussy Riot masks and I talked about the beauty and necessity of free and accessible art.
The Buffalo Infringement Festival is an artistic Utiopia, a perfect climate for social change and exploration. We have no idea what Fringe is here.
I recalled a performance during last year’s fest where a fire dancer named Clinton said to the crowd, “How many of you had your first show ever during infringement?” So many people raised their hands and clapped. I cried.
There are a zillion moments that justify why I volunteer my time with this festival, that was the one that will make me only work harder. To know that I am helping people express themselves for the first time, creating life long artists, adding to the collective culture of humanity.
Find things to be thankful for in spite of adversity! Be inspired by the wrong, make it right with your art and actions, protect the person next to you, make change in your community and globally, connect with others and join the revolution. This is how great punk music is born. Be the change and hold your head up high. Happy Thanksgiving!
I will be attending the Montreal Infringement Festival this year and simultaneously protesting the World Fringe Conference. Everyone who tried to attend the conference from both the Montreal and Buffalo Infringement Festivals have been denied without reason.
Why do we scare you so much? If you want to have a well run festival you must know the counterculture you have excluded. Fringe artists are supposed to be cutting edge and on the fringe of new and exciting artistic expression. They must pay money to be part of the festival. Politically motivated acts are not welcome due to the chance of pissing off sponsors. Censorship and corporate sponsorship are evil.
The Montreal Infringement Festival was created by Donovan King in 2004 after the St. Ambroise (a beer company) Fringe censored the artist in 2001. The sponsor Can-West Global, a media company that owns the Montreal Gazette was to blame.
The theatre critic from the Gazette wanted a free ticket to Car Stories (experimental politically charged interactive street theatre where the audience moves and becomes the show) and after being told “no” caused a stink and decided not to cover the festival until the artists were ejected. The festival not only kicked the artists out but also refused to pay them their ticket sales after a sold out week or reimburse the registration fee associated with the Fringe trademark.
The following year Infringement spread to Buffalo. Infringement is a non-profit, non-hierarchal, grassroots art festival. It is a revolution that brings together independent, free spirited, and often controversial and experimental expression.
Donovan King attended the World Fringe Congresses in Edinburgh in 2012 and 2014 . He was invited as a representative of the infringement festivals. This year he the conference is in his hometown and he was denied access.
This is a blatant disrespectful slap in the face. Donovan was excited at the prospect of attending the 2016 Congress to continue the conversation in his home city and to try and finally resolve issues.
He has written and performed pieces that criticize the Fringe Festival and its ethics. Other artists have combined efforts to artistically challenge their exclusion from the St. Ambroise Fringe through culture jamming. The festival has responded with the complete exclusion of activist artists.
The police are called whenever there is a protest, even though the right to protest in Canada is protected by their constitution. Instead of communicating we are shunned, this cultural battle that has gone on for well over a decade and it must end now!
This year for the 3rd World Fringe Congress Donovan proposed a workshop on strategies to help ensure safer artistic festivals after unfortunate instances of sexual assault and discrimination against disabled people at recent Fringe Festivals. We need to create policies to ensure safety and inclusion of all people in our festivals.
He wrote a letter to the new Fringe CEO, Ms. Shona McCarthy, in response to the rejection of Infringement representatives:
“I find it really unfortunate that my colleagues in Buffalo are being rejected simply for being associated with me. It is important to remember that these artists simply wanted to do Fringe theatre until they were threatened by the Fringe in NYC, who claimed to control a Fringe trademark. Instead, they started an infringement festival, just like we did because of the Canadian trademark that prevented us from doing a populist form of arts we have been doing since we helped found the Fringe in Montreal. We are about as Fringe as it gets – if people won’t let us play in their ‘official’ festival, we are going to do it ourselves, just like the artists who invented the 1947 Fringe Festival in the first place.”
The Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF) also threatens unfounded legal action against any independent artists who try to use the word Fringe without their permission. This is the antithesis of creative expression. There is an exclusion of artists actually on the fringe of societal norms.
The Infringement Festivals do not fit corporate agendas and are not allowed to voice creative solutions to critical questions. In order to spark our own counter conversation there will be a World Infringement Congress on Saturday November 19th in Montreal.
Infringement is about community, inclusion for all, challenging unjust politics, celebrating diversity, and changing the world through artistic expression. Buffalo comrades should make the trip.
I will be exposed and covered in corporate logos for the world to see and performing with The Candyass Caberet at the historic Cafe Cleopatra. I have been one of the visual arts organizers, a participating artist, and performer in the Buffalo festival for years and am also proud to say that I won the 2017 poster contest.
I am dedicated to the conservation of artistic integrity worldwide. My paintings have been ripped off walls and people have walked out of my performances. If people are offended then you are doing it right.
I was surprised when I saw a giant ad and schedule for the Rochester Fringe Festival in a local Buffalo art publication. This is Infringement territory! We celebrate diversity and the pure unedited brilliance of local artists.
Try to tell me that what we are doing is wrong, that bringing the community together and celebrating the beauty of unity, artists of all walks of life and experience standing side by side making the world stronger, exposing children to art, collaborating with our neighbors and connecting to out of town artists who will soon become family.
Authentic and exhilarating politically charged art, discrediting idea of art as a commodity and fighting for the rights of all humans, and challenging mainstream ideas. No budget, totally volunteer run, guerrilla music, burlesque, dance, theatre, visual arts, poetry, comedy, and under the radar art that defies all categorization.
It is my everything, a citywide sprawling sweet escape from reality. I will fight for the integrity of this festival and others like it to the end.
Censorship at every level is difficult and feels dirty and wrong. Artistic freedom is taken away daily while over sexualized children and extreme violence are plastered on billboards and ads without remorse. Yet a woman cannot be topless? What’s so gross or wrong about that? Every human had nipples, I just can’t figure out what the fuss is all about?!
Recently in Saskatchewan at the Lyric Theatre’s Chautauqua Theatre Festival a burlesque performer called Rosie Bitts was censored during her performance about censorship! It is currently illegal to strip in the province of Saskatchewan. She did a non-striptease performance involving audience banter. She does her number in pasties and a g-strip to show how ridiculous the laws are.
When Ms. Bitts brought a male audience member on stage to reveal his nipple, she pointed out that revealing her female nipple would be completely illegal. Quickly the president of the Lyric Theatre shut the show down and the burlesque performer gracefully left the stage.
She was basically told to shut up and dance like a nice girl. The audience was left shocked, some thinking that the stoppage was all part of the act. Sadly it was not.
Are all nipples created equally? Guess not! I love how on Instagram there are women who are photoshopping men’s nipples over their own to talk about how silly it is that the female nipple is so sexualized and the male nipple is just fine. Women are fighting against this absurd double standard with a loophole that makes Instagram look like an a-hole.
Artist Micol Hebron created a digital male nipple pasty template. Celebrities such as Courtney Love and Sarah Silverman have even used this app. Currently the only female nipples allowed on Instagram are of women breastfeeding and post mastectomy scarring. #freethenipple is the hashtag used for this important feminist movement.
I’m not afraid of public nudity! My dad was arrested for streaking in the 1970s, so it’s in my blood. Besides baring it all on stage I walked in the first NYC Slut Walk, rode my trike in pasties in the Buffalo Naked Bike Ride (nude not lewd is the slogan), and have done many street performances wearing nothing more than body paint or pudding in some cases.
The best art causes a conversation. I’m an organizer of the Buffalo Infringement festival. With organization comes making venues and artists happy. Luckily I’ve only dealt with artist censorship a few times.
Once was during a show about addiction. There were plenty of pieces about drug addiction and other realty dark shit. But as soon as my friend hung a painting about sexual addiction the owner of the gallery got pissed.
He let the artist hang her work and then as soon as she left the building her work was fucking ripped off the wall. Can you say coward?! I fought the good fight. We never used the venue for visual art again.
This was a simple painting of a girl masturbating. No realistic interpretations of genitals. It was black lines on a yellow canvas. I couldn’t believe that THIS was the piece that was too controversial.
Only a few years before this same gallery was under different ownership and I showed my own graphic sexual paintings (it was actually my first time hanging in the Buffalo Infringement Festival).
This guy would have shit a brick if he saw my stuff. It included a 5 ft painting of a vagina dentata with grillz that said CUNT in rhinestones, an even bigger painting of two beautiful obese women feeding each other cupcakes, and a painting of my vagina cumming out frosting made of pink tinted caulk.
The same painting was torn off a wall by a teacher while I was in college. He took it down during a foundation art class for being too lewd. The students in his class defended me and the painting remained on the wall. Fuck you buddy!
My Kitty Porn series was torn down off a wall during the Montréal Infringement Fest two years ago by an employee who found it lewd. The art was later reinstated by the venues manager, but was now slightly damaged.
I was happy with how it all worked out, my work is now slightly more infamous knowing that it can offend someone so deeply. That girl must have had some issues with her own sexuality to want to destroy someone’s art like that. I put a slash in the win column.
I would be a hippocrite if I didn’t share this story. There is one case of censorship that I was involved in: An artist was not allowed to show their cartoon because it showed all of the worst things including violence towards trans women. This particular venue is a safe place for any and all people who are queer or transgender.They also allowed a full on X rated art show during the festival, so they didn’t care about nudity.
So in this case I understood why censorship occurred, it was not for sponsorship reasons, not because the venue was prude, but instead because showing this cartoon would take away the safety of the space itself. You always have to see things from every perspective. The cartoon was not banned from the festival, it was just moved elsewhere.
I’m happy I live in a place where stripping is legal and I can swim topless if I want. I’m not happy that my male burlesque counterparts do not have to cover their nipples with pasties.
Freedom of speech is everything in the art world. Women need to take a note from Rosie Bitts and the boobies of Instagram and smash society’s stupid standards of nipple censorship by letting it all hang out without consequence or remorse.
Featured image of The Stripteasers Burlesque troupe, Buffalo, NY