2 Hot 2 Handle

Issues & Themes: 

What happens when you take a queer artist from the big city and land him in southern Alberta during the gay stampede? The answer is 2 Hot 2 Handle. Wong captures this powerful contrast by fusing images of the 2009 Canadian Rockies International Rodeo, Canada’s only gay rodeo, held each year outside of Calgary with photographs of western bronze sculptures. The sculptures depicting cowboys in action were created by artists between the 1880s & mid-1980s, Wong was invited by curator Quyen Hoang to respond to the Glenbow Museum’s permanent exhibition MAVERICKS: An Incorrigible History of Alberta. Wong was given ‘free range’ to the museum’s vast and eclectic holdings: archives, artifacts, antiquities to contemporary art works. After a series of short visits to the Glenbow and a spontaneous trip to Calgary's gay rodeo, the connection between Alberta's rugged history and the Rodeo — was inevitable. "I responded, in the end, to something that was in my face," says the Vancouver-based artist. Knowing very little about cowboy culture, Wong spent a weekend recording his first rodeo. He saw everything from "flaming drag Queens to macho cowboys to serious bull dykes — so to speak," says Wong. On the right stills and video of the 2009 Canadian Rockies International Rodeo in Strathmore, Alberta. On the left stills and titles/text of rodeo bronzes from the Glenbow’s collection. Wong’s work is an impressionistic portrait which explores this alternative part of Alberta’s history. It is not meant to be a documentary/literal portrayal of the gay rodeo but rather it situates it in the context of the story of the west and the construction of identities. Wong’s work uses these frozen gestures to explore the complexities of gender and sexuality. In-relation-to the bronzes, the videos introduce movement to their very static image and highlighting our constantly evolving and shifting society. (Vtape)