Queer Artists in Their Own Words: Peter Clough Can Play Magic the Gathering for 13 Hours Straight

The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Peter Clough, “Odalisque” (2019) performed at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn (image courtesy the artist, photo by Patrick McNabb)

Age: 34

Location: Harlem

Artistic Medium: Performance, Video, Sculpture

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m interested in the ways that stigma and desire come together in shaping sexual identity with a particular focus on kink and gender fluidity. In my most recent performance, “Odalisque,” shown recently at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn, I reimagine the classical reclining nude as a gender non-conforming queer bondage submissive. I produced custom bondage furniture fit to my six-and-a-half-foot tall body that restrains me in a classical reclining pose. I wear a ball gag and lacy panties, while projections of my mouth and eyes, mapped onto my face and huge on the wall behind me, deliver a series of monologues about my experiences as a lifestyle bondage submissive.

My next show, “Head,” opens on June 15 at haul gallery in Brooklyn, on view through July 14. I’m transforming this unfinished basement gallery into a glossy black dungeon and showing a new series of collaged self-portraits and a new video that blends the lines between video art and pornography, and takes on the seeming contradictions within the queer submissive consciousness: experiencing restraint as comforting, experiencing humiliation as affirming, experiencing exposure as a kind of armor, and experiencing bondage as freedom.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

My parents, my therapist, and my boyfriend.

Describe your coffee order.

Coffee is expensive. I make cold brew at home.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Getting through high school.

What constitutes a perfect day?

A few weeks back, my boyfriend and I played Magic: The Gathering for 13 hours straight, only taking breaks to order food and fuck.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Oh wow, there are so many. Soon All This will Be Picturesque Ruins: The Installations of David Wojnarowicz at PPOW, Narcissister at Participant, and Elle Pérez at 47 Canal. I could keep going.

What would your superpower be if you had one?

To stop time so that I can sleep. I work too much, but so does everyone else.

Tell us a lie about yourself.

My gender identity is pretty straightforward.

What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?

Can I buy it?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Money, but I still want more.

What did you make when you first started making art?

As a kid I was obsessed with drawing house plans and wanted to be an architect. Then I hit puberty and I started making really emo drawings about how sad I was. Not a whole lot has changed.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Oh spilling tea for sure. I’m kind of over how shady and competitive the queer art world is.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

I always come back to “Fountain” by Duchamp. I remember reading the book “Kant After Duchamp” in college and feeling like an entire world of thought was opening up around me. Also, I like drinking piss, so it makes me happy to see a urinal get so much love.

What are your plans for pride month?

To keep living my life exactly as I always do. And also to go to the Wrecked and the Carry Nation party and roll my face off.

What is the future of queerness?

I hope we can keep pushing toward more nonbinary ideas about gender and language. We see this becoming entrenched in a new ways in the trans/cis binary which is a problem for gender fluid folks who don’t identify as trans for whatever reason. We need more words, we need more gray areas, we need more confusion, and we need to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Back in my day…

I started jerking off before the internet existed. It was awful.

Name one guilty pleasure.

New panties. Ugh, I buy way too much underwear.

Greatest queer icon of the internet: Babadook, Momo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?

Babadook

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?

No! But there isn’t enough support for any artists in America.

How do you stay cool during the summer?

Aperol Spritz

What is your favorite type of milk?

Whole cow’s milk. I’m from Minnesota, I can’t help it.

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

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