In the “Estranged Labour”, Marx argues that capitalism treats workers as slaves, their bodies used as mere machines of production, an activity in which they have no say. As such their human potential is denied and they are kept in their primal, animalistic state. As a solution, he proposes material abundance, the abolition of bourgeois property relations, reduced working time and simplified work. To an extent, these propositions have been implemented in the so called developed western societies of the 21st century where workers are treated far more humanely than they were in Marx’s time – they work for an average of eight hours a day, have paid holidays, superannuation founds, etc. As such, they are left with a decent amount of free time, which in Marx’s view is a time to exercise their humanity, to discover the skills and abilities that differentiate them from animals. However, what Marx does not address in his writing is that the greatest problem of capitalism is that it permeates all spheres of human life, not just the time spent at work.
Zhang Huan, 65KG , 1994, performance, Beijing, China
In ‘Performance art and its constraints’, Thomas Berghuis outlines two distinctive characteristic of Chinese performance art: its reliance on auxiliary medium and its collaborative nature, both of which apply to the work of one of China’s best-known performance artists, Zhang Huan. Continue reading
Alexsander Rodchenko, Pioneer with a trumpet, 1930
With multi-story buildings and high scaffoldings, rapid vehicles and airplanes, the early twentieth century urban and technological developments literally revolutionized the way we see the world. Soviet era photographer Alexander Rodchenko maintained that photography must respond to the new reality of urban life and capture images from radically “different vantage points.” Rather than following the traditional belly-button or eye-level perspective (which pictorialist photographers inherited from paining) camera should capture events “from inside, from above down, and from below up.” Only in this way can camera fulfill its task and function as prosthesis of the eye, offering the view that is truer (more objective) than the naked eye could ever capture. Continue reading
“I don’t believe that gender, race, or sexuality have to be identities, I think that they’re vectors of power.” Judith Butler
Drew Pettifer, The Decisive Moment, 2009.
It is necessary to “radically challenge the entire concept of an identity based upon sexual orientation,” wrote Elizabeth Ashburn in her 1996 publication on lesbian art. Twenty years on, American feminist and queer art theorist Amelia Jones finds it necessary to echo Ashburn in her 2012 book Seeing Differently reminding us to “think beyond […] the grain of binary models of identity in favour of multiple, intersectional, and relational processes of identification.” Sexuality must converge with issues of race, gender, geographical and socio-political location, class, religion, age, etc. to reveal the immense complexity and diversity of subjectivities. Jones likens this intersectional approach to anamorphic viewing which distorts the one-point perspective to reveal a new, previously neglected viewing angle. The result of this perspectival distortion is de-objectification, de-fetishisation, and abandonment “of oppositional othering.” Continue reading
Recently I spoke to Australian contemporary dancer and choreographer JAMES WELSBY whose work HEX explores the legacy and impact of the 80s AIDS crisis through the lens of the generation that was born in its wake. Combining contemporary dance with queer club performance, HEX provides an experience of both celebration and reflection; it is a tribute to those who have been lost, but also a celebration of the community they shaped, and which continues to grow. Continue reading
ASTRID LORANGE is Sydney based poet, performer, researcher and academic whose recently publish book ‘How Reading is Written’ explores the legacy of Gertrude Stein and challenges the settled conventions of language. Astrid believes that language – both in writing and reading – should be open for experimentation; always kept fresh and innovative. Language, in other words, should be a constant discovery. On Friday 27 February, I interviewed Astrid on Eastside Radio 89.7FM. Continue reading
German choreographer Raimund Hoghe
Internationally acclaimed curator, Zvonimir Dobrovic is currently in Sydney as guest of Performance Space and 2015 Mardi Gras festival. On Friday 27 February, he joined me on Eastside Radio to talk about his practice and the new, extended meaning of queer art.
Zvonimir is known for his unconventional approach to curating queer. His vision of queer art widens the common association of queer with the LGBT related content and includes all art that is subversive (but never violent); all art that questions normativity and conventionality. The art, in other words, that is a disruption to business-as-usual, to normative assumptions that lead to marginalisation and discrimination of any kind.
Hear Zvonimir reflect on socio-political relevance of queer art and explain why he believes that art (and non-didactic art in particular) has a power to broaden the per-existing limiting and marginalising narratives, more effectively then some other initiatives. He also explains why it is important to keep queer art indexical rather then iconic, where iconic is seen as repetitive and formulaic while indexical points to something new and unexpected, something that we have not yet though of. The indexical art is an art of discovery. If we follow Zvonimir’s definition of queer art as disruption of status-quo then we could say that indexical art is by its very definition queer. Or, in other words, that art that is not indexical stops being queer.
“When trying to understand or determine queer art, let us remember that the beauty of queer is that there is no essential queer art object or subject. Queer art is not an objectifiable identity, domain, or dwelling, but is rather produced as a contrast against which normalcy is produced and codified. Hence, queer art never is, it never fully arrives. It is always, disrupting, refusing, and resisting the ever-shifting power of normativity and dominance, …” ~ tinyurl.com/nnxhv5j