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a love story

June 26th - 30th, 2019

7 days a week, 12pm–7pm

Thursday late night, 12pm–9pm

325 Canal Street, New York City

Queerskins: a love story, the Peabody Futures of Media Award winning VR drama, created by Illya Szilak and Cyril Tsiboulski, will be shown in a site specific installation at 325 Canal Street in New York City, June 26th – June 30th, 2019, in celebration of Pride Month.


In this haptic experience for Oculus Rift with Touch, visitors are seated in the back seat of a photorealistic vintage 1986 Cadillac behind two grieving parents, Ed and Mary-Helen, as they take a magic-realist journey down a country road in rural Missouri. Visitors get to know Sebastian, the son they have lost to AIDS, through the drama unfolding in intimate proximity in the front seat as well as by interacting with artifacts from his life: a collection of personal belongings, photographs, and a diary they find in a box on the seat next to them.


According to writer/director, Illya Szilak, a practicing physician who works at Rikers Island Correctional Facility, it was important to design Queerskins in a way that prevented it from being read and, perhaps, dismissed as a “gay” or an “AIDS” story. “Although Sebastian’s story is unique, and he is a gay man, the experience of rejection, love and loss is universal. Importantly, we do not ask you to pretend to be anyone you are not. We designed Queerskins so that you can take all your personal history and biases into the experience. Your relationship to the objects, e.g. a Christian cross, a Tom of Finland pictorial, etc. determines how you will reconstruct the man who has died.”


The virtual reality experience, which premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2018, is anchored in a site-specific physical, interactive, immersive installation populated with historically accurate, crowd-sourced, and curated objects. The work also includes performance photography. Visitors to the installation are asked to find an object that resonates with their own story of love and loss and be anonymously photographed with it. A selection of photographic portraits of prior participants by Julienne Schaer and Tagger Yancey IV will be on display in the Canal Street installation.


Cyril Tsiboulski, creative and technical director and co-founder of Cloudred, an interactive design studio, explains the importance of visitor participation: “We created the experience and the installation to actively engage visitor imagination because we know that the discrimination that LGBTQ+ people experience can’t be wiped away by the magic of VR. Being able to share this interactive story along with the immersive installation during Pride is especially meaningful to me. As a gay man, I’m all too familiar with the shaming, prejudice and intolerance that LGBTQ+ people experience every day. Through this work, however, I truly hope that our audience can find a connection with those often labeled as ‘other.’”


Queerskins: a love story and several other art exhibitions celebrating Pride Month are made possible through a collaboration with Wallplay, the experiential arts and innovation network that repurposes empty spaces. ON CANAL is a district for pop-ups where brands, artists and startups can test out new ideas and engage with the public. ON CANAL is co-curated by Vibes Studios.

Opening party Thursday, June 26th, with onsite artist photographer Tagger Yancey IV taking portraits, 5 - 9pm

For more information contact

@queerskins          #oncanal 

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