Video Call Calamity

A pink poster with wonky purple borders has the logo of Andro and Eve with a turquoise triangle and white writing top and centre. The poster title is ‘Video Call Calamity’. Two ‘Video call’ style boxes form the main image. One with the name ‘Squinky’ has a digitally distorted black and white illustration of a person’s head and shoulders. They are looking upwards with a cheeky expression and have short dark hair. The other video box has the name ‘Caller Two’ and a blank face with a question mark in the middle. Additional question marks surround this face, and 8-bt style star graphics in lime green decorate the poster.

Today on the blog we hear from artist Zoyander Street, whose new online performance, Video Call Calamity, Andro and Eve is producing.

Read on to find out about their inspirations behind the work, and some honest discussion of their struggles as someone who identifies as neurodiverse.

During the various lockdowns and shift towards online events, I noticed more people becoming aware of social discomforts that they perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily notice in the lives they had become accustomed to. There were articles about how eye contact is actually quite draining for most people, or about the dysphoria of seeing yourself reflected back at you in a small window constantly, while you talk to others. I was also thinking about my own writing, and the discomfort I have inventing dialogue that sounds like real people, which matched up with the discomfort I feel performing normal personhood in day to day life.

A slim, white transmasculine person with short brown hair is seen from waist up standing three quarter view to camera. They are wearing a green long sleeved t shirt and have brown eyes. They are in a dimly lit workspace with three computer monitors behind them
Zoyander Street

I wanted to make a piece of work about that, and when I think about games and theatre that explore those feelings, Squinky’s* work is the first thing on my mind. So I wanted to collaborate with them and see what we could do together.

*Squinky is a queer new media artist and theatre practitioner based in Montreal, with a background in game development

I’ve made a lot of “games” that focus on interactive characters based on real people, so that you can just have a simulated conversation with them without trying to achieve anything

I’ve been working in indie games for just over a decade now, but until this project, almost everything I’ve made has been a single player experience, something that you interact with alone. I’m very interested in constructing a partner who you are interacting with, and I’ve made a lot of “games” that focus on interactive characters based on real people, so that you can just have a simulated conversation with them without trying to achieve anything.

I like the way that pacing and glitches affect the way you read that software partner, almost like the computer version of body language. I’m not often funny on purpose, and most of my work is kind of serious but chill – this piece is a big shift for me in that sense, as well as being the first theatre-adjacent thing that I’ve made!

I have wanted to get into theatre for a while, partly because I am fascinated by performance and the way that people can completely change the meaning of things just by altering their tone or posture. I’ve also had really moving experiences with improvised story games that are played in person, either around a table or in a theatre space. I want to be able to work with those dynamics that emerge between people and the narrative gaps that we all fill in when given a few very gestural directions. It’s been a real joy to get theatre residencies as part of the development of this project, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I get to explore next.

– Zoyander Street, September 2021.

Video Call Calamity has its very first performance on 6 October! Tickets are on sale now. Find out more and book here.

Video Call Calamity is part of New Conversations, a programme funded and delivered by the British Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Farnham Maltings, and the High Commission of Canada in the UK. It has also been supported in its initial stages by Sheffield Theatres.

Meet the Judges

A slim, white transmasculine person with short brown hair is seen from waist up standing three quarter view to camera. They are wearing a green long sleeved t shirt and have brown eyes. They are in a dimly lit workspace with three computer monitors behind them

For our Reclaiming the Rainbow Photo Challenge we have assembled a brilliant bunch of South Yorkshire Creatives to judge entries. Read on to find out more about them and how they feel about the rainbow flag!

Reclaiming the Rainbow Photo Challenge is a way to raise awareness of the Pride flag as a symbol of safety, build connections, and celebrate the strength of the South Yorkshire LGBTQ+ community through this difficult time. You can find out more about it and on how to enter here.

A 6 stripe rainbow arch curves from bottom left to top right. A pink camera graphic sits on top with the words reclaiming the rainbow beneath. The Andro and Eve logo is shown in pink and white on the top right hand corner on a lavender background.

First up is Zoyander Street (Pictured above). “I am a neurodivergent, genderqueer trans man living in Rotherham, and an artist-researcher and critic working at the fringes of indie videogames for over a decade. After becoming increasingly sensitive to the limitations of linear text, I began exploring interactive and tactile mediums of communication, because I want to surface ambiguity and allow mess to stay messy. Led by ethnographic and historical research, I create lo-fi glitchy games and custom hardware for festivals, galleries, and museums”.

Gilbert Baker said that he chose the rainbow for the flag because it is a “natural flag” that “comes from the sky” – it comes from the same place as the light that shines equally on everyone and sustains the myriad forms of life on earth. Just as you can never find the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, you can never perfectly locate queerness or pin down the boundaries of our community; we exist as an expression of the beautiful variety of forms that exist in this world.

Zoyander Street
A white woman with short briwn hair and blue eyes is smiling at the camera with just her face and shoulders showing. She stands against a shutter painted yellow and grey

Next up is Nelly Naylor. “My names Nelly, I’m a proper Yorkshire lass, I live in Sheffield with my girlfriend and our cats Slim and Shady! I studied photography at Sheffield Hallam and in my final year I launched my business. I noticed that couples in the LGBT+ community were not represented at all! I knew I was the girl to fly the flag for our community so I become a LGBT+ specialist wedding photographer.  5 years on, a few awards in the bag and 150 5-star reviews online, I’m still championing equal marriage and documenting it in my unique colourful fun style!” 

The rainbow flag to me was something I could identify with- for me the symbol if I saw it in a cafe, bar, or on someone’s website, I knew it was a safe space for me to be myself. I know it sounds cliche but I do wear the flag with pride, on clothing, shoes, umbrellas whatever it may be the symbol says to people this is me, I’m comfortable with who I am and this is my journey. I’m also really glad we now have a progress flag now, I feel every year we do progress in everyway. 

Nelly Naylor

And finally, our third judge is Yuen Fong Ling. Yuen Fong LING is an artist and curator based at Bloc Studio, Sheffield, and Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University. Ling has a socially-engaged and performance-based art practice that explores his biographical connections with omitted histories, people, places and objects.

A Chinese man with shoulder length hair stands looking to the left. He has a moustache and goatee and dark rimmed glasses and is wearing a white shirt with patterns of faces on.

Recent projects include: “Towards Memorial” (2019-ongoing) explores the remaking, gifting and wearing of sandals once designed and handmade by gay socialist activist Edward Carpenter (1844-1929), and “The Human Memorial” (2020-ongoing) explores the empty plinth to consider what monuments and statues we want in public space? What we stand for, and importantly when and where?  

My relationship with the rainbow flag has been different throughout my life. There were times when I shied away from it, embraced it, was protected by it, exposed, made vulnerable by it, and even rejected it. What this has meant, is that it’s constantly evolving and changing symbol for me. Now, more than ever, do we need to reclaim, rework, make our own, these colours for our community

Yuen Fong Ling

We hope our judges words inspire you to think about your relationship with the rainbow flag and take your own photo for Reclaiming the Rainbow.

Up for grabs is a fabulous selection of prizes from local traders including Birdhouse Tea, Showroom Cinema, Elly Joy, Truffle Pig Vegan, Beer Central, Moss and Clover, Vulgar Vintage, Artisan and Eco and Louche Mag.

If you’re LGBTQ+in based in South Yorkshire, send us a photo now!

The photo should be

– Inspired by the phrase ‘Reclaiming the Rainbow’ and

– Show either yourself or another LGBTQ+ community member in a location in South Yorkshire.

Deadline for entries is midnight 1 Aug. Full details on entering, can be found here. Good luck!

Reclaiming the Rainbow

A 6 stripe rainbow arch curves from bottom left to top right. A pink camera graphic sits on top with the words reclaiming the rainbow beneath. The Andro and Eve logo is shown in pink and white on the top right hand corner on a lavender background.

The last 18 months have been hard to say the least. Especially for marginalised groups of people including the LGBTQ+ community.

So this Pride Month we want to continue the work we’ve been doing to bring our community together, even if that is remotely for now.

You may have noticed during the pandemic here in the UK, the rainbow has been used as a symbol for the NHS. We are, like most people, eternally grateful for the sacrifices made by all staff working for the NHS during this time of ongoing crisis. It shouldn’t have been this way. However, we also know that the rainbow through the Pride flag has a wonderful history as a symbol of safety for the LGBTQ+ community*

a 6 stripe rainbow pride flag flies against a blue sky

Increasingly, Pride Month has been used for various corporations to show how ‘inclusive’ they are, while glossing over the inequality in their supply chains, unethical affiliations, or lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community. Does that modified rainbow logo show sustained engagement with and active support for the rights of all LGBTQ+ people year round?

Reclaiming the Rainbow Photo Challenge is a way to raise awareness of the Pride flag as a symbol of safety, build connections, and celebrate the strength of the South Yorkshire LGBTQ+ community through this difficult time.

Are you LGBTQ+ and living in South Yorkshire? Then get involved with our photo challenge!

To enter our photo challenge all you need to do is to take a photo on your phone or camera.

The photo should be

– Inspired by the phrase ‘Reclaiming the Rainbow’ and

– Show either yourself or another LGBTQ+ community member in a location in South Yorkshire.

You do not need to show your face / the model’s face in the picture, but it is important that some sort of human presence is shown, as we want to use this as a way to represent the folk that make up the LGBTQ+ community in South Yorkshire.

Please make sure when taking the photo that you have permission of anyone shown. We will use these photos on Andro and Eve’s social media and website, and may share them with the press.

We may, one day exhibit the entries in a real space, but we don’t know that for now.

Email the photo to [email protected] with the subject ‘Entry for Reclaiming the Rainbow’. Please also state where in South Yorkshire you are based.

One photo entry per person.

Entries close on midnight on Sunday 1st August.

The photo challenge entries will be judged by a panel South Yorkshire creatives, Nelly Naylor, Yuen Fong Ling, and Zoyander Street.

The winning entry will receive a bumper pack of goodies from local independents including:

– £30 gift voucher for Vulgar Vintage

– 2 x cinema tickets for Showroom Cinema

– Tea selection from Birdhouse Tea

– Vegan beer from Beer Central

– Vegan chocolate from Truffle Pig

Louche Mag Issue 2

– Self care pack from Artisan and Eco

– Andro and Eve goodies including a logo tote bag

A second prize – winner will receive bouquet of flowers from Moss and Clover and vegan chocolate from Truffle Pig Vegan. Two runners up will also be selected who will receive vegan and GF treats from Elly Joy.

So get entering! We’ll announce the winners in early August.

Have fun and good luck!

*We are aware that not all ‘LGBTQ friendly’ places are welcoming to our Black, Asian and Global Majority siblings, and those who are D/Deaf and disabled or transgender / gender diverse, and we are thankful to the individuals and organisations who have raised awareness of this issue and continue to campaign to make change.

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