Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’S Fight against AIDS BY Deborah B. Gould weaves us through a history of the emotional work of activism for queers. “ACT UP’S emotional pedagogy offered new ways for queer folks to feel about themselves, about dominant society, and about political possibilities.” (215) The interconnections of time, space, emotion and politics is an interesting topic right now in the midst of the whats being called the Arab Spring and the world wide growth of Occupy Wall Street. Gould reminds us that “affect, in short, has the potential to escape social control, and that quality creates greats greater space for counter-hegemonic possibilities and for social transformation.” (46) I believe the strategic uses of emotion is interesting in regards to archiving historical perspective from an alternative vantage point.
I found this work engaging in its historical poignancy and alienating in its it verbose terminology around affect and subjectivity. This was not an accessible read, instead Gould used the emotional history of AIDS activism to create an affect theory that is highly inaccessible through academic theory and jargon. This is my last year of school, and when I’m trying to explain affect to friends i catch myself struggling around how easily lost i get in jargon that is not accessible to people who are not located within the academy. A huge part of my subject formation has been around cultivating this academic language that talks about newly emgerging terms, but i am frustrated by how easy it can be to alienate yourself in academic ideas, languages and theories. When talking about affect and activism i don’t want to use words like axiomatic and habitus to talk about feeling states and meaning-making, i want to engage people in a history of self-making that is emotional but also tangible, relatable and accessible.
To conclude, I want to share this excerpt from an interesting article i read called the Ignorant Schoolmaster in Artforum about ”the artist Bjarne Melgaard and a team of local art students who created an installation called “Beyond Death: Viral Discontents and Contemporary Notions About AIDS.” Although nihalistic at times, this article reminds me of the way affect, AIDS activism and queer cultures perform temporality and feeling-states in an installation that is at once about death, queer theory and contemporary and historical activism” ( scroll back through the blog to see pictures of this installation)
"Here, pedagogy is a rampant, disorderly space of infection, where untimely our disavowed knowledge returns not as education but as the destabilizing possibility of social and ethical contamination. Directing our attention back to the late urban culture of the 1980s, when pre-relational practices such as transgressive literature, sex workerism, punk feminism, s/m, and “death porn” captivated the Foucault-reading brains and bodies of downtown Manhattan and San Francisco, Melgaard at the same time performs a sort of archaeology of the present, tracing the lineage of a gay terrorist movement that never happened. Asking why we missed the boat, Melgaard shows no love for the white-collar activism of ACT UP or for the legalization of gay marriage. The manic antagonism that drives his practice is steeped in a melancholic vision of the way contemporary culture absorbs and neutralizes any insurrectional desire almost instantly. So he’s made an installation against installations, founded on a workshop about death, and opened up a speculative space—under the sign of the baton sinister, a medieval heraldic emblem signifying illegitimacy—that abandons all hope of integration within neoliberal society, as well as any fear of the end of neoliberalism’s normalizing humanism."
Calling Out for Volunteers: Art, Queerness, Trauma and Identity Politics
I need help with my queer feelings research! Here is some information about my work.
This work will attempt to create an archive of feelings that speaks to identity politics, queer creative cultures and affective subjectivities that pertains to a small group of queers willing to work to explore what queer-trauma could mean in light of various lived experiences. I understand Queer-Trauma through an intersectional analysis of a non-normative sexuality and traumatic experience; it is a formative subjective and experimental site to discuss community, public feelings and feminism. I understand trauma through a depathologized lens that looks at trauma “not as a medical problem in search of cure but as a felt experience that can be mobilized in a range of directions including the construction of cultures and public.” (Cvetkovich 47) Futher, Cvetkovictch elaborates on the cultural link that meets her definition of trauma: “I treat trauma as a social and cultural discourse that emerges in response to the demands of grappling with the psychic consequences of historical events. Defined culturally rather than clinically, trauma studies becomes an interdisciplinary field for exploring the public cultures created around traumatic events.” ( Cvetkovich, 18)
I want to examine trauma through this cultural lens that makes way for queer feelings and new understandings of subjectivity. My goal is to use queer identity politics, activism, and creative self-expression to explore queer sexuality and trauma experience as inter-related and inspiring sites for creative expression and resistance against oppression. My overarching question is looking to explore how intersections of sexuality and trauma affectively impact creative queer cultures and subjectivities.
If this at all interests you and you have ANY spare time to answer a few questions via skype, the phone, facebook, email you would be contributing to an important archive of feelings, identities and creative cultures.
# 5 VIRGINIA WOOLF’S CANE AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Amid the rare manuscripts, the library houses relics of another sort: wondrous things such as Charlotte Brontë’s writing desk and Charles Dickens’s monogrammed letter opener. My favorite object is the cane of Virginia Woolf. It still possesses some part of her, as if it absorbed her solitary, stoic, and stubborn self, to keep her incessantly upright. One can well imagine it steadying her on her last walk—through the wet fields to the River Ouse, where she drowned herself on a chilly March afternoon.
Susan’s piece is the first one I’ve found written from the perspective of a partner in the humanities, rather than the social sciences (surely there are others?). She published it in 2006, five years ago, and poses all the questions that still seem to remain unanswered. Pertinent questions that…
But our history is fledgling; our sense of self is so unsure and unformed that it does not have the power to imprison us. We can change. We can invent. We are in the process of writing what we want to be. No one’s really watching us too closely, so we have the advantage of surprise. This is the freedom I crave after months in any place with an entrenched sense of national identity. I believe it is also this quality that enables us to make truly innovative art. We are process and possibility. But we aren’t getting any younger.
Really good article on how anti-capitalist movements can totally miss the point by reaffirming colonial occupation and the dispossession of Indigenous peoples.
written by Jessica Yee
“Let me be clear. I’m not against ending capitalism and I’m not against people organizing to hold big corporations accountable for the extreme damage they are causing. Yes, we need to end globalization. What I am saying is that I have all kinds of problems when to get to “ending capitalism” we step on other people’s rights – and in this case erode Indigenous rights – to make the point. I’m not saying people did it intentionally but that doesn’t even matter – good intentions are not enough and good intentions obviously can have adverse affects. This is such a played out old record too, walking on other people’s backs to get to a mystical land of equity. Is it really just and equitable when specific people continue to be oppressed to get there? And it doesn’t have to be done! We don’t need more occupation – we need decolonization and it’s everyone’s responsibility to participate in that because COLONIALISM AFFECTS EVERYONE. EVERYONE! Colonialism also leads to capitalism, globalization, and industrialization. How can we truly end capitalism without ending colonialism? How does doing things in the name of “America” which was created by the imposition of hierarchies of class, race, ability, gender, and sexuality help that?”
(Also, I’ve just been reading Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, which is edited by Yee and has lots to say about colonialism and racism within broader feminist movements and exciting articles that go beyond that/came before).
“…a brutally kitsch catastrophe of relational aesthetics…”—
DID THE VERSION OF THE “OPEN WORK” we inherited from relational aesthetics ever suspect that it was already infected with a pathological possibility, that the office without walls and the convivial zone of the project could also be spaces of violence and death? If the installation was the aesthetic form best suited to a spreading, cybercapitalist nowhere, it probably shared Empire’s inability to spatialize otherness as anything but an avenging, antiproductive suicide from beyond or to invent intimacies besides the socially scripted, always already mediated encounters of the laptop screen. It seemed there was no escaping the soft, spreadable new space of contemporary art and its hyperproductive demand: Was the artwork too open, or not yet open enough? In any case, every “Utopia Station” eventually begins to dream of its own aesthetic Columbine.
John Kelsey’s article on the Norwegian pavilion at Venice & e-flux’s Kopfau! at Basel is pretty interesting…
“The choice of assimilation - queer skin, straight masks - is clearly about supporting the violence of heteronormative distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate lives
- Sara Ahmed, Queer Feelings. (i think i have a queer scholarly boner for Ahmed right now)”—