Testing Grounds

Testing Grounds

Contribution alongside Bonita Ely, David Chesworth, Kenny Pittock, and Michael Lindeman.

Art Guide Issue 141



Diego Ramirez performing Once More, With Diversity Feeling

One of my ‘signature moves’ is to consider the social coding of my position in the arts and upset its meaning within a virtue economy. In other words, I am very sarcastic. Mel Deerson, after an original commission by the online platform Recess, helped me develop this sensibility in 2019, when she asked me to participate in A night in Hell, a public program to her show A show about hell at Kings ARI. She curated a series of performances to activate this huge medieval backdrop of hers like a stage. It is Deerson’s angelical pattern to appear every couple of years in my life with grassroots energy. Then momentarily disappear to become the light in someone else’s dark world. Thanks to her appreciation, I performed Once More, With Diversity Feeling, an ‘audition’ for a Mexican vampire in the canned Buffy The Vampire Slayer reboot, which was mediatised as emphasising diversity. Inspired by novelty acts, I sang pitchy songs with over the top lyrics—like a goth softboi—hoping to get ‘casted’. The audience wanted to laugh at me but didn’t want to be ‘problematic’. This kind of perverse tension is now a staple in the push and pull that characterises my output.