Chris Vargas
Graduate Student

Contact information


Group: Department of Art Practice

Web site:

Personal statement

  Chris Vargas describes his videos as “comic yet committed explorations of the tensions within and among queer communities—between trannyboys and dykes, between liberal gays and radical queers, and between gay trans men and gay non-trans men.”   His works are funny and uncomfortable and incredibly self aware—think radical queer art meets Curb Your Enthusiasm or Strangers with Candy. The stakes are high though, and queer viewer or not, the heft and import of what is truly being said is palpable. The conclusions are never conclusive, and the complicated real world relationship between romanticism and criticality is addressed and re-addressed.


Vargas’s practice is steeped in a tradition of feminist and queer film and video. His works range in form from feature film and short video, to youtube sitcom and PSA, to most recently video collage. Directly or indirectly, they address themes of contemporary queer life, where topical issues such as gay marriage and transgender pregnancy open up (often by way of a narrative structure) into less topical issues regarding gender identity, body issues, and non monogamy. The DIY aesthetic sensibility in his work is campy and choppy. The seams show, the characters are caricatures, and everything feels homemade. In treating the substantial and heavy subject matter in this informal and humorous way, the work becomes accessible; it opens doors and windows and asks you to come in.  


This notion of accessibility is perhaps best looked at in his series “Falling In Love…with Chris and Greg.” The videos, posted on youtube, follow the template of a television series. Already, the viewer can access them (if they have a computer), and can understand how to watch them (if they have ever watched a TV sitcom). Although the works are geared towards a queer (and sometimes art) audience, these points of entry are universal.   Narrative and humor carry the viewer along to join Chris (the radical queer trannyboy) and Greg (the liberal gay man) while they navigate issues of queer people and communities by way of their relationship. On their own, the characters speak no authentic truth, and bumble through unresolved disagreements. An episode might be really funny and really sad or difficult at the same time.    We are left to read between the lines and sort through the humor, narrative, characters, and issues—to handle the slippery material and acknowledge that there is no one right or easy way.    Vargas avoids the summing up that we have come to expect in a sitcom, and potentially in our own lives, and instead allows very unresolved moments be the culmination.     In real life, and in Vargas’s narratives, sometimes the only honest conclusion is a long awkward silence.

(Text by Becky Suss, MFA 2010)