Vignette 1: The mixtape is about production and access to the means. I have to begin, I suppose with the sound I’ve offered upon your entry. I typically avoid concerts and music gatherings because the event of music listening is so scripted … nothing of presentation or a politics, no the only thing element of critique is to whine over the quality of sound. And since so many among us manage to pass this sound-barrier spinning only samples on CDs under endless sponsorships perhaps it is intelligent to find something different in sound that’s worse or outright repellent.
The sound… they say with a pause pregnant and well worthy of abortion… posing as educated consumers. Borrow that line to go back to your ear buds if you must… but I love watching people displace themselves in public blaring trap from cell phone speakers. The “bad” recording The “bad” autotune The “bad” sound of teens without real recording support… just Soundcloud making music far more interesting than most of the conversations I’ve had this year. If you attempt to share a mixtape, you will only hear complaint over the quality of sound. That need for the professional to intervene so as to make one worthy of listening probably comes from art school. Perhaps everyone in my life now only went to art school which is why I hear them all saying the same thing instead of listening to something for what it is, allowing potential in something different to become also important. Music like this… sound… like mosquito spray to keep em off is perhaps predictive of the ruse of this new trending receptivity.
Of course there’s the problematics of me playing it here. Let someone steamroll me on Twitter. But this is the music I listen to when I am doing my cleaning gig and I felt it only appropriate to begin my shift here tonight by framing me and what follows with something that is not me at all. There is a limit to the importance of what I can share here. There is a more important elsewhere More resourceful More resilient
In blaring music that isn’t me, I am also gesturing toward another not-me, playwright Young Jean Lee whose last piece I saw began with a closed theater blaring LADY LIL KIM AZEALIA BANKS amongst others. It happened at the HAU yes, for those bold enough to attend an identity play called Straight White Men by a Korean American Shakespeare scholar who begins the whole night blaring music that is not having any of this shit. So yes, this was a device that I wanted to reframe or rip off… a means to throw a rope to something else, toward very different entities simultaneously. I will only see what you do with it, I never expect to be spared feedback, but don’t be surprised if I fail to change as per your request. I only proceed in this room now under the bold assumption that should you feel personally called out in any of what follows… that should not become my problem. I have not been compensated enough to talk you off the ledge of inadequacy… please don’t make it my job to assure you that you’re good even though you’re feeling identified otherwise. I don’t need your noise around me.
Take it from me a depressive who cannot be tricked: If you’re getting complete and total approval it means you’ve become useful to someone. That is all.
Vignette 2: a frame for writing
Passion in writing or art—or in a lover—can make you overlook a lot of flaws. Passion is underrated. I think we should all produce work with the urgency of outsider artists, panting and jerking off to our kinky private obsessions. Sophistication is conformist, deadening. Let’s get rid of it. –BELLAMY
Obviously the artist book I’ve done, for many will fail to exist as a book. It’s small and leans into the idea that writing called Art doesn’t have to be good. I have to be detached from outcome if not outright cagey. This is writing the first failure. I wanted to share things that were not sacred. I thought that I could simply revise my archive and make art from what bits didn’t go with the larger projects. Bits that fell into the wrong outlines, or proposals that produced nothing, could now just sit alongside my even more indulgent timeline of disgust for Europe, Art and whatever the two seem to think they are doing with one another. It is writing in the era of Twitter. It is not about connectedness. It is fracturing theory art and the composure of those peddling it.
How do you write coherently in the era of Trump tweets and reporting on hard/soft/hard/soft/maybe not Brexit? How does the coherent betray us as a representation of our time together now? What is broken writing? How do I honor my working as that from un-working space? WORK SHY? My Silence is Speech (a poem I wrote that consisted of every job title I have ever held and there were more jobs than years I’d been alive in the year I wrote it) that poem didn’t make the cut, because it still felt undone, way too personal, and definitely not food for Art wolves.
This podium is a guillotine: if I share anything true regarding me, it won’t sound like art.
I don’t like evading meaning, but I don’t wish to digest for you either. I want writing to look like my life, to be able to leave the thoughts as they arise alongside each other. Most of my notebooks are composed of lines I write into my phone while I’ve been working jobs that real artists wouldn’t bother themselves with… When I broke the heart of queer community in Master’s Tool, clearly I was using the language of the learned to whom I was speaking. It wasn’t that I thought the form was so generative: writing like every college student intro/support paragraphs 1-2-3/conclusion… I’ve since almost exclusively observed the way people protest my change. They want you stuck because it’s impossible to love a soul in motion. There’s a line in this book you will hear later that says: The Self is a Still Life. What else does art do but keep you in your place?
Art does awful things.
Forgive me for not feeling right with the way you’re meaning well.
Vignette 4: surviving liberals
We prefer not to face that when we weaken ourselves through lack of introspection we strengthen the real enemy. –RECHY
Why would I, in Europe write a prayer? I wanted to write a piece that would inspire the atheist elitist to huff, and become agitated immediately after opening it. I wanted to write a piece that could just end the bits of life I lived here… because Brexit caused my Hauptmieter of 5 years to return to Berlin from London and all around me everyone was telling me to just photoshop my bank statements and forge contracts, here in Europe where all this time I’ve been told the Germans are so real, not fake like the Americans… and this fragile Socialism felt also a bit more dead within each bureaucratic burp. I managed to find a place, and there was a social web into which I fell, but most of the lecturing I received in these last 8 months has been careless if not outwardly intended to inspire only hopelessness. I became quiet and vague in all conversations, cause for some reason people just love to tell me what to do… even when I haven’t asked for advice. This knowing better than I, what I am to be doing with myself, and MYSTI, has for years now often manifested itself some the lame invitation to address The Culture. They say: When are you going to make art that’s for everyone? Not just queer or whatever…Why don’t you respond to The German Culture? and this SULKING is that project. This is what you’re getting: me arguing for a worthy subject… over the course of some months when I really thought my time here was done.
Planet Romeo is a great way to gaze at the unimaginative trough of gay-life post freedom. I once saw a meme the Star of David crossed out, alongside a cross also within the same prohibited symbol… and yes so long as you hate all religion you are able to hate Jews again, and this individual posed intellectual by quoting Zizek’s centering of EU as the first place for legitimate atheism. Who gets to measure the authenticity of absence, absence of a belief in god? Atheism is the least interesting of fundamentalisms. It is however the most effective means to reduce a body to some banal National territory via which all other values materialize as if naturally. So much of this German Culture Speak isn’t about arguing a position it’s about diminishing someone’s capacity to have a position within this geography we share where the authority belongs naturally outside your reach. I’ve no place among those who feel so represented in/of their National conundrums.
I’ve lived with so many Germans and others in various WG formations… I moved 7 times in the first year I lived here. I have since ceased enduring specific conversations—sulking out the room. Having grown up in the house of a single mother in a place where there’s no help for such a woman, I have witnessed the therapeutic capacity of Faith in a society that couldn’t care less. And as a queer, you will not find any easy summary of my experience of Faith so I won’t pretend to render one now because I am not here to make it easy for you to feel power in knowing. An earlier me, used to argue over this German Problem with faith. One of the worst Germans I ever met, drunkenly over our kitchen table got in my face and said: Just think… if the Jews hadn’t been Jewish… Yes, that woman became a mother and works within the NGO industrial complex, but I don’t think she’s particularly unique—I have struggled in witnessing Europeans who I thought smart suddenly bold-faced and angry at the thought that prayer might be useful. (What is psychoanalysis but a prayer before the corpse of your childhood self alongside some practitioner Holy Spiriting your Trinity?) I knew I didn’t like her long before this moment, I knew I didn’t want her in my interior life and I moved out as soon as I could, but yeah there was 6 months of a lot of quiet time alone in my room because someone in the tradition of singing such ballads of supremacy for herself is never going to listen.
Supremacy is the easy way. But she—who is not unique—and everyone else I lived with in this city self-identifies as liberal and a lover of diversity. She liked diversity so long as we all become the same. She liked the simplicity of get rid of all religion, the way many queers try to say get rid of all gender. Loving diversity is a casual lie told by many in introductory conversation… it is a conformist expression from a speaker who doubtlessly also loves Art… this is a script they’re reading. Maybe this is why I make such unlikeable Art before you now? Here our Statesmen will insist that Art is good for an everyone. This politics of everyone is far removed from the Art I’ve known and what I’ve seen it become. Art for everyone—I certainly don’t work for everyone.
The prayer as the form of this book that I am introducing tonight is an honoring of a past not appreciated in this space we share. It is a practice of quiet that those who love to argue will never find peace within. It is the capacity to find value within a system of values that I don’t share.
How does Art require a god complex … fed by the silence of audience?
Who wants to be an audience now that the audience is supposed to act?
Vignette 5: dead gay art
They love the dead gay because it makes their mundane way of being intentional and preservative, instead of unimaginative and fascist. They love stepping over bodies labeled loveless in pursuit of that called real love in comparative culture. They love to usurp souls of those who suffered difficulty and who were bold enough to suffer publicly, as cautionary tales and disciplinary regimes for their children; loathe from a far the person who produces and makes love public and who in doing so reveals only laundry lists of incapacity within straight life.
What follows is mundane: my bones as some bridge toward your authority.
Queer is a body that hasn’t learned to love itself for all the right reasons.
I was almost hit by a car on the edge of Tiergarten one morning and after catching my breath of gratitude for the small things in life, I imagined the insider perversion of story how it might get told that I would have died cruising and how outside my reality and outside my intimate this would be… No one cruises the park at 9 am. I didn’t die cruising I died going to work. It flooded my memory of all the misdirected unsolicited intervention-ing I’ve endured among the thoughtlessly well intended.
Like murder in Volkspark Friedrichschain, a place I’ve never cruised, let alone at 3 am… and yet the foreboding: I thought of you right away when I heard. What nonsense.
Meningitis in Kit Kat! Str8 people I never hear from messaged me out the blue to make sure that I knew I was contaminated and to keep away from those of innocent society. Of course, it wasn’t the night that I work… that one party that happens only 6 times a year… but oh just to be sure they needed to remind me of disease. And I haven’t bothered myself with the time-lining research but I am fairly certain that given the coverage of that happening… it’s general public messaging… that it wasn’t a gay party it was a str8 people thing. Messaging campaigns around gay disease are pretty clear in leaving the heteros exceptionally clean, exemplary so. But again, disease reminds so many that it’s time to reach out to me. I didn’t reply. And my silence in these moments is not a sulk.
Antibiotic resistant gonorrhea … Watch out!
The Berlin bathhouse that burnt down, Steamworks, when I heard the news I was thought “There’s a bathhouse in Berlin called Steamworks?” Again it seems that even those close to me envision my body fantastically among the charred remains of 3 unnamed. In full disclosure after a time I learned that Apollo Sauna had rebranded as Steamworks, so yes I had been there a couple of times in 2010 when I first arrived. And while I wouldn’t be surprised if my mother had come to such a paranoid conclusion, friends who I’ve considered quite smart… strangely become thoughtless in uttering this toxic desire to find me there incinerated. What Freudian slap in the face is it to fantasize me not a body anymore but just a tragic end. Conveniently told by someone who is not I.
<Re-member my bones some bridge toward your authority… Art does this in its application of biography as means to value. Dead friends give you a great deal of clout
Art makes friendship speculative >
This is the history I carry around… that people inquire after my remains, as if tragedy could never just be behind me: I studied Women’s Studies in Fargo ND under a professor who informed me of the local police investigating a hate crime in which a gay man my age had been severely beaten in his apartment with his hands bound to his ankles in shoelaces. She went on to say that she had called a classmate to see if I was okay. She wanted me to form a movement in the wake of this… but I just wanted recluse and smoke weed and watch Sex and the City. Fine back then, when there weren’t so many queers around to imagine… but this Matthew Shepard Syndrome follows me here even among the self-consciously literate. Let me assure you the 23 years I lived in North and South Dakota only saving money so that I would never have to return was a vacuum out of which life love and acceptance weren’t my prospective goals… Have you ever been threatened with a gun? I was 16
Mine is not an identity essentialist argument here. Not every gay is stamped with death. (Think of poverty and a conversation about the violence of poverty… between someone whose dad was a janitor versus someone whose mom sold drugs… both these individuals know poverty… but they would describe its violence no doubt differently. This is always where class fails to become one.) The gay stamped with death is simply the gay who is unlikely to find love… those work shy repelled by hetero-co-competitive-working space… those who fail to find community in gay, who delight in unraveling utopias with belligerent refusal… that coming together as queer is rarely something other than an act of violence. Queer is merely the body of a person marked for violence… it doesn’t eliminate violence it lives within it… albeit outside the heterosexual mandate to act normal in violent times.
The faggot is reduced to fantasy because it is unimaginable that he could source something, anything real from casual exchange other than an STD. And seriously they can’t wait for the next deadly wave to cum and purify this perverted society because they predict it all the time. I cannot convey the regularity with which persons of means to know better say “It’s only a matter of time till the new AIDS happens again.” Not simply those bored in straight life either, queers too think they’re in on this obvious destiny. Since you’re good enough to know that slut shaming is a patriarchal thing, I could speak, or not—not sulk, just simply honor your limitations. The failure of you to remember the last time we spoke honestly and you said this and then I got quiet and said nothing else… that memory failure is another fucking limitation that I don’t get to bring it up later because you’ll never remember… that’s the convenient element of bad memory… when you’re suddenly requiring documented proof of a history we shared in which you always felt superior and no suddenly your memory has gone to shit. Learned friends, tonight isn’t about educating you it’s about getting me free from the noise of your dead disease dreams and Art might not be a space in which that’s possible. AIDS worked well for Art, a bunch of estates steeped in shame and vulnerability became available for money making… the politics lost their meaning fading into mere medium… and generations now still haven’t become able to imagine an elsewhere.
Vignette 6: Artist as identity
Identity is like a turtle shell out of which the subject keeps craning his/her neck to see if and where it might be possible to move: a way of locating, protecting, masking, and disciplining the person. –BERLANT
A significantly less harmful roommate once reflected on how she had watched a documentary about Divine and how there were quote “all these normal people interviewed about Divine” and that she imagined one day herself being one of the normal people interviewed in a documentary about me. It didn’t cut. I knew it was a compliment for her to see me in relation to Divine. There is little else available to register MYSTI in a straight world. But let us be real in that according to her fantasy, I am supposed to eat dog shit and die young. She didn’t mean it like that… she just unconsciously needs it to be like that… because the distance I’ve placed between us… living alongside each other is difficult. She would like the chance to explain proximity to me from her angle. And knowing nothing of my real value system and my staunch opposition to most documentary practice—especially the queer art kind, she thinks the greatest end to a life tragic as mine would be a movie in which I say nothing as some corpse around which persons raise their hands to volunteer as flies who decompose me. I can’t wait until you die is all I hear. You will be more useful when your argumentative personality doesn’t interfere with the bits of you I choose to value.
Is the camera a cock? Taking someone and shooting them?
I am not interested in putting a good spin on a bad thing.
Good art never came from gay freedom.
Now that art students seem to be spending as much time in University as law students and psychologists shouldn’t we institute an ethics of art making… do they really get to wander about trusting their own instincts while other professionalized fields learn the difference between right and wrong in their first year?
Let your future become stranger because feeling known is the end of exploration.
Government arts grants often become just welfare for rich kids.
Queer theory belongs to those who went to the schools that taught it.
Queer art belongs to those who went to art school but refused to master technique.
Rehearsal only erases vulnerability.
Drug addiction is the new AIDS epidemic. So many of you here are already walking dead.
I need a break from those egos attempting to become Art.
Vignette 7: misplaced faith
I love that god is the subject you cannot see… while arguments of race and gender often go back and forth about what can and cannot be seen: “I don’t see race” or “If I saw your transbody what would I see” and of course “seeing the face for communication” cause apparently that’s really important here in Germany. With god there’s no seeing to fog the task of believing yourself wrong in a world… made right only by something so far from you that you’re nothing to do with this business of being right. The need for something to overreach your will—corrupt with unabashed self-interest.
Pseudo-radical theory gets used all the time to keep things in order. Preciado/Dean are my odd couple in this devotional and I hardly take them to task in my sulk; I just leave them moneyed and drugged and hopelessly typical. It’s perhaps a way of me killing my own academic drag. Artists only seem look to theory as an argument for more and more Art, when can we find a way to read removal and the even more glorious rapture in what’s already rotten around us.
My writing is all about talking myself out of something. Lying in bed with difficulty and accusation. If you feel called out it’s usually because we are alike.
My silence is not to be confused as an olive branch
There is an amount of money after which you will never again experience sincerity.
Funding is the reward for making queer look tangible and contained to the stage.
They need to configure a way to make the wealth they have sound reasonable… that is the future they wish to procure… a future where their hoardings haven’t been restructured. Repossessed. Written wrong in some later history.
Casual lies are how most people break the ice.
We, who queue to shit in the gold toilet, do not worship false idols.
A hetero is he who wishes to see himself reproduced
or she who lends herself to the production of this evil
A homosexual is one who would swallow this whole world with his thirsty rectum if only he were more time rich.
You, the queer, are a spectacle of grief, a living embodiment of the end.
I might like to make a sulk out of they who never shut up, who cannot observe silence and be changed.
I resist competitive culture because it blindly assumes that we are playing the same game.
Trust is knowing that you’ll be able to survive betrayal.
Trust is an arrogant position.
The gallery is a culdesac
I spend a lot of time on my art
Spending a lot of time at openings.
We look good together
Let’s converse polite about nothing
Till we find ourselves in another circle
This gallery is a culdesac
I cannot help that you’ve decided I am the problem, but let me assure you the problem never works itself out.
People don’t come to contemporary art to witness our moment, they come to be better than it & I am here to make it all much worse.
So the sulk and its unsightly nature could be just a prayer before the rotten corpse of Enlightenment, which certainly didn’t save us.
Performed July 2019 DISTRICT Berlin