Issues
Issue #44
“(Im)practical (Im)possibilities”
With: Carlos Motta, Paul Preciado, Jack Halberstam, Miguel A. López, Virginia Solomon, Greg Youmans, Ryan Conrad, Malik Gaines, Nathan Lee, Antke Engel, Renate Lorenz, and Gregg Bordowitz
We are in the middle of a time in which classical notions of flexibility and freedom actually work to alienate our relations to one another. But in fact the ability to shift, to deviate, to morph should constitute the strongest claim that we are much more than what traditional categories tell us we must only be. It is precisely when elaborate techniques of labor extraction become indistinguishable from sensations of pleasure and self-realization that queerness returns to insist on the...
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11 Essays April 2013
I live in a world where many things I thought impossible are possible. —Guillaume Dustan, Dans ma chambre (1996) The day of your death I put a 50-mg dose of Testogel on my skin, so that I can begin to write this book. The carbon chains, O-H3, C-H3, C-OH, gradually penetrate my epidermis and travel through the deep layers of my skin until they reach the blood vessels, nerve endings, glands. I’m not taking testosterone to change myself into a man, nor as a physical strategy of...
At a recent symposium on art and gender politics convened by Carlos Motta at the Tate Modern in February 2013, a series of short manifestos delivered by artists, activists, and scholars had the peculiar effect of casting feminism as part of an anachronistic and naive version of contemporary politics. 1 At the symposium, Beatriz Preciado, author of Testo Junkie , rejected the idea of a feminism still organized around male and female forms of embodiment and went on to outline a vision of a...
To Helmut, to whose rage and love the ensuing lucubration is due. The deeply transgressive sexual dissident work of Grupo Chaclacayo (1983–1994) has remained largely unknown until today. 1 Narrated more like a myth or a rumor (almost no one has been able to see their actual works in almost thirty years), this collective endeavor was one of the most daring episodes of artistic experimentation and sexual-political performance to emerge in Peru during the 1980s. These experiments were...
Like others among the twenty or so people witness to Sharon Hayes’s Everything Else Has Failed! Don’t You Think it’s Time for Love? (2007), I spent each lunch break during the week of September 17th, 2007, crying at the intersection of West 51st Street and 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan. The performance consisted of Hayes walking out of the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) building shortly after noon carrying a small speaker and a microphone on a stand, and reciting a love letter from an...
This past December, I made a short video with my boyfriend and collaborator Chris Vargas about the relationship in the early 1970s between San Francisco’s hippie drag troupe the Cockettes and future disco diva Sylvester. On New Year’s Eve 1969, the Cockettes danced into the spotlight with a rambunctious, drug-fueled stage performance as part of the “Nocturnal Dream Show,” Steven Arnold’s midnight experimental-film program at the Palace Theater in North Beach. More performances followed and...
Sarah Schulman has been a formidable presence in the New York cultural and queer activist milieu for more than thirty years. She has fought for abortion rights, for women’s reproductive health, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer rights, and against the AIDS crisis. In addition to participating in action in the streets, Schulman has also published numerous novels, plays, screenplays, and nonfiction books. In these works, Schulman has chronicled her experiences and the...
Tradition! Tradition! Tradition! —“Tradition , ” Fiddler on the Roof (1964) On television, people marvel at the change. Marriage, that privileged heterosexual union, that millennia-long social institution said to be sanctified by the Christian God and his analogues, now seems to be going the way of other revered cultural traditions like slavery and human sacrifice; its terms are no longer so clearly defined. In the spring of 2013, eleven full-fledged nation-states permit...
A narrative, it seemed to me, would be less useful than an idea. —Susan Sontag, AIDS and Its Metaphors I want to talk about what happened to us: to a very specific “us,” and some very strange happenings. I want to tell a story, to give a history to things oblivious to history. What I’m after is a queer problem and it won’t stop moving. I like how they say, you’re just going through a phase. That’s what’s happening to us, we’re going through phases. But a phase isn’t a thing,...
An imposing drag queen in a leopard-print top flaunts her décolleté after the show. She totters through the glitter, tinsel, and pills scattered on the floor and walks over to a massive tropical plant, from which she fishes out a lighter, lights a cigarette, and breaks out in a terrible cough, exhaling glitter from deep in her throat. In the background, a slideshow displays oversized portrait figures wearing fanciful masks made of various trashy but glamorous materials, partly referencing...
Anhedonia
Gregg Bordowitz
A fantasy, as if on a sailing ship: Making my calculations, sweat soaked wet Lying flat, bunk above, close, hidden The gaps between bent slats dangling weight Pressure applied, visibly registered These modern ships can almost berth themselves Corseted in my sleep, I can’t breathe Stuck in this enormous estate, interred My crinoline scratching against itself Now I am royalty after the feast As my engorged body is stiffening Wealth and privilege become the atmosphere...
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