Cruel Optimism

Black and White image of bodies interwined.
Textured divide




Gorman Arts Centre


31 August - 29 September, 2023


Tributary Projects
B-Block Hall

Tributary Project is excited to announce its Cruel Optimism Exhibition. Cruel Optimism will be an exhibition exploring the liminality of queer experiences, the Queer capacity of world building, construction of community, and the fine line we navigate between fierce, fantasy, fact, and fiction.

This exhibition toys with Lauren Berlant’s concept of Cruel Optimism (Berlant 2011). Queer communities are far too familiar with the concept, it is a unilateral experience, action has consequence, inaction just as much. To what extent has dominant society forced us to be half selves, demi-truthful ways of being.

Exhibition Opening Night: 31th August 6-8pm

 “How should Queer People address oppression? Surely not through acceptance?”

 – P. 107 QUEER LIFE IS TRAGIC, Lauren Berlant’s 

“Cruel Optimism” and Lee Edelman’s Negative Queerness in Life is Strange

 “A relation of cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing.”

 – Tableau on Cruel Optimism and Berlant 2022  

“Optimism is a conceptual glue that binds together haphazardly a chaotic world into space made livable by hope even if that hope never materializes.” 

– Chase Dimock on Cruel Optimism 2012

Curated by Christian Sirois @xtian_44

Artists: Tom Campbell | Denis Butorac | Lionel Bawden | David Charles Collins | Isabella Capezio | Sophie Dumaresq | Jay Davies | Kirsten Farrell | Gok-Lim Finch | Sophie Kihara-Murer | NOT | Juniper Maffescioni | David Lindesy | Remi Prica | Micah Rustichelli | Blade Lallemand | April Widdup | Sammaneh Pourshafighi