Tag Archives: Queer

Reverberations Between

Völuspa’s latest music video, “Miss You Too,” is legendary. Like getting lost in a story that you know has to be true, and yet, can’t be. Directed by Ash Peters, who also features as the film’s butch lover, the visual range glides between perspectives, desires, ritual. The reverberations between. We get the sense that we’ve been here, there, before. In another life, perhaps?

At first glance, “Miss You Too” seems to depend on oppositional pairs. We see references to the Knights Templar (and thus to the Crusades), good and evil, light and dark. However, these points of difference exist only to be twisted, undone by the butch/femme dynamic that is itself a matter of speculative projection of self as other and back again. This is desire unfolding.

static1.squarespace.com.jpg

While film’s most direct narrative reference is to Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), which itself remits to Arthur Schnitzler’s Traumnovelle (1926), in which the decadence of the present is filtered through the sexual fantasies of a woman imagined as dangerous to patriarchal normativity, it also queerly hearkens Picasso’s Les damoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and the projection of masculine desire as an uncontrollable lack. Völuspa’s desire is not achieved through objectification, but rather fantasy, conjured from the intensity of a sound in the memory of a subject undone.

avignon

(Pablo Picasso, Les Damoiselles d’Avignon, 1907. MOMA)

497756435_1280x720

(Stanley Kubrick, Eyes Wide Shut, 1999, screenshot)

These tensions unfold as the undoing of individual subjectivity, framing desire as a challenge to the subject-object relationship by asking what of me was always already part of you. What of me was a projection of you of me?

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 7.22.23 PM

The sexual fantasies of a woman, here, are not indicative of man’s desire to control, but rather her ability to imagine other worlds, worlds unseen, or seen as the inside of a gaze that knows itself to be only the fragmentary illusion of a singular perspective. This is the mystery, the play on triangulation, reflection, and reversal.

To find myself inside of you, finding you were already inside of me. Does that make us the same? Or different?

There is a moment when the film’s spatial orientation starts to unravel, to rewind, and we start to wonder if what we have seen as “the present” is actually the past, or perhaps, the future, a dream; another in which the film enlivens to color and, again, we start to wonder about that liminal space between, that place that exists between color and something else, the space of dreams, but also, desire.

“Miss You Too” is a narrative of twisting, inverted expectations—bodies, gestures, affects—a narrative that leads to a realization: What does loneliness feel like to you, next to me?

What we have left is the echo: and then, I found myself somewhere in the reverberation of a longing that began before you knew that I missed you, too.

Advertisements

Notes on: Jugo del cuerpo

Jugo del cuerpo (October 25, 2015)

At Harbor gallery until December 5th.

It was the soft fluorescence that first caught my attention as I approached the back room. Was it going to be more sensual? More seedy than I had imagined?

But the collective exhibition Jugo del cuerpo had more to do with home than brothel. More to do with the situatedness of the body than with bodily excess.

It felt like being in someone else’s house. Being in someone’s kitchen, smelling their cooking, and not knowing why you’re there, or if you were invited, or what they are about to serve. What does it mean to taste someone else’s food?

12189314_10106749624729855_4595891150957690515_o

(photo cred: Leah Dixon via Facebook)

Before I read the program notes, and more on those in a sec, I thought, what does this hearth, this techno-illuminated hot plate, serve? A symbol not only of domesticity, quotidian in its formal register, but also performative in its gesture toward meals yet to serve, mouths yet to feed.

Quotidian but not only in the sense of the home. The lighting, in red and white, reaching back into Nicaragua’s Sandinista past, to the search for a socialist future in which no mouths would go unfed, in which no homes would lack, in which no hearths would remain unlit.

There was as much in this show about absence as there was about the possibility of a future. A stack of plastic chairs in the corner, arms severed: truncated, uncomfortable. Missing parts of a domestic scene in which the remaining element, what, to me at least, seemed like a bowl of refried black beans, turned out to be a mixture of volcanic ash and oil. From the very bowels of the earth extracted a viscous reminder of what land really means, of what the minerality of the earth really says about the grimy texture of our own quotidian relationships.

It’s strange to admit, but I thought this exhibition had a lot to do with the precariousness of family life. And this may be because I think about family a lot. But the mis-en-scène of the iterative hot plates, the dismembered plastic chairs, the inedible, indigestible substance that seemed to be all that was left to eat. Impossible relations. Impossible futures. Impossible because they are missing, or they never were, or they never were meant to be. Or because colonialism. Or because US intervention. Or because racism and the war on drugs or the Good Neighbor policy, or banana republics, or proletarian dreams of a future cut short by the inexorable weight of geopolitics.

A video installation accompanied, flashing images of the collective at work, flashes of landscapes, of homes, of the interactions that led to this vibrating if impossible moment.

In the end, I thought this was a show that resonated more with the sense of nostalgia that comes with years of unfulfilled promises, of chairs left vacant. Or maybe it had more to do with the premise of the collective: jugo del cuerpo. A play on words, a mistranslation, a circumlocution meant to signify sweat, sudor. The materiality of the body taken as a measure of what language cannot express, or fails to express adequately. What stories were to accompany this dinner? What connections were made possible through the cross cultural interaction? And what does the impossibility of expressing adequately the functions of the body do for imagining a way towards feeling rather than saying, essentializing, rather than comprehending?