Bright and graphic illustrations, installations on bathroom politics, and back-page comics for the fabulous Shameless mag? Artist Coco Riot does it all! Here’s how Coco (who uses they/their pronouns) describes their work:
A queer hispanic migrant artist, Coco Riot believes that art is not a tool for social change but social change itself. In their work Coco Riot loves exploring the multiple social possibilities of drawing and language through installation, animation film, print media, graphic novels, comics and in-site drawing exhibitions. The topics that fuel their inspiration range from queer politics, social and personal memories, living in different languages and the experience of migration, to Coco’s desire for bright colours and the love for poetry and repetitive patterns. In their work, Coco Riot uses personal experiences as metaphors to talk about social and political experiences experiences.
Coco began by making zines and comics that they wanted to read, but didn’t see out there. Their comic zine Il Pleut des Gouines, or It’s Raining Dykes, dealt with being queer, gender, and personal issues, and it has an awesome aesthetic. Sadly, Coco’s no longer making the zine, but you can read some pages from the archive at IlPleutdesGouines.blogspot.com.
Another one of Coco’s projects is Genderpoo, an installation piece that contains over eighty signs depicting identities and bodies that challenge the limiting “Male” and “Female” restroom signs. The piece is both humorous—the title alone makes me laugh—and thought provoking, since public restrooms remain a very politicized and dangerous place for people who aren’t seen as conforming to the limited gender binary (See: Last week in Tennessee). An image of the Genderpoo installation
This short animated film shows some of the characters from Genderpoo, “visibilizing (some) of the identities and communities that western society oppresses because of their gender, colour, religion, ideology, ability, age, family situation, class, features, size, etc.”
Another project of theirs is Lleuven Queers, a book of comics, illustrations, and stories, that Coco toured with last year. The book is mostly in Spanish, with parts in English and French (Coco, who is from Southern Spain originally, is tri-lingual). In an interview with Revel & Riot, Coco said, “The idea of the book is how can we talk about queer politics in another language. For instance, neutral pronouns are not yet possible in Spanish. How can we translate terms? How do we create a culture that is respectful of our differences?” Coco has also explored language and activism in their comic, “This Is About Having an Accent,” about how other social justice organizers are patronizing and disrespectful to people with accents.
A page from Lleuven Queers. Image from Coco Riot’s Flickr.
In a 2010 interview with Canadian radio station Radio CentreVille, Coco said “I don’t like to give messages with my art, I like asking questions. I think [telling] someone the truth doesn’t work as well as when you ask people to look for truths themselves.” According to their blog, Coco is working on a The Book of Hometowns, about “queerness, Hispanic culture in Canada, migration and belonging. The book is in English and Spanish, just like my brain,” and a drawing project called Los Fantasmas about the “recuperation of historical memory in contemporary Spain.” Coco is also a frequent collaborator with Elisha Lim, and the two artists are working together on a show called “Call Me They” in Ottawa, Ontario (with a website started already!) further exploring trans identity.
Check out more of Coco’s work here: http://cocoriot.com/