Robyn Day’s work examines the queerness of identity categories, emphasizing the fluidity of gender, sexuality, and sex. Whether working within a typological framework—if only to subvert it—or through ethnographic immersion or process-oriented experimentation, Day’s practice is research-driven and informed by their interests in queer theory. Extending from analytical to documentary photography and photo-collage, her work forms a kind of “political portraiture” that calls into question heteronormative and gender-normative assumptions.
Their series Wo/men is an ironic typology, one that undermines the very category it purports to analyze, while Bury Me in Shoc King Pink is a record of the paradoxes of queer community, culture, and identity in Berlin. Her most recent work Nobody Knows is an imagined archive of queer histories. With no official narratives of its own, LGBTQ histories are carefully pieced together through acts of rediscovery, reassembling, and reinterpretation. Day aims to transform that method of piecemeal recovery into an artistic process, using materials and their physical “memory” as metaphors for queer love throughout history.
Layering, scraping, scratching, and crinkling photographs, and modifying their surfaces with ink, charcoal, pigments, boiling water or ice, Day reworks images as they develop and after, representing queer history by intentionally obfuscating it. It becomes impossible to discern how each photograph was made, nor how many times or by what means transfigured. Day’s process and materials, including found objects, reflect her subject matter, with the act of inventing an archive paralleling the creation of a performative identity that has long been denied or hidden from view.
Robyn day graduated with an MFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2017, receiving the Graduate Merit Award. Day currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. Solo and group exhibitions include Elizabeth Houston Gallery, New York, NY, Cornel Henry Art, San Diego, CA, Plummer Park Great Hall, West Hollywood, CA, ILHAM Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Berlin Blue Art, Berlin, Germany, The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC, Toshima Center Square, Tokyo, JP, Panopticon Gallery, Boston, MA, Nappe Arsenale Nord, Venice, IT, Arc Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Schneider Art Gallery, Chicago, IL, Hannah Bacol Busch Gallery, Houston, TX and Samson Projects, Boston, MA. Robyn has received press coverage in Vogue Italia, the South Bend Tribune, the Northwest Indiana Times, Dig The Dunes, The Advocate and The Charlotte Observer. A 2016 Stuart Abelson Graduate Research Fellow, Day was also an Athens Photo Festival Finalist and Julia Margaret Cameron Award Finalist in 2015 and an Anne Louise Barrett Fellowship recipient in 2014.