Write/Wrong II

MYSTI Community “College” over-extends herself once again to provide a course of action for the largely inactive. Has your life of art-working been at the mercy of jet-settlers who have access to unending educational courses of self-spectacularization? YALE NO WE WON’T GO! For those of us left producing only questionable material… BARDfuckers BANNED! What might be said if we had a room of OUR own? GoldsmithsYourself! How might queer theory write if unscathed by pedigree instead maybe left as unpublished weirdness? The brand-name educated, conversational colonialists are not welcome here. How does thought arrange itself in a room of persons who gather together for no other purpose, with little to gain and even less to lose?

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Terms changed and so did she, as in me, MYSTI: Let us together articulate a new resistance movement… a new separatism for those of us experiencing life as un-certified minds within a rubric that values us for this very in/experience. A non-event; a non-happening; a non-recognition is also a way of bringing persons together, so let us explore this space in which we share… unattached to authorship or the mandate to conclude prematurely, because none of us are done yet.

Space is limited because I perform these functions unpaid, and I am a very difficult personality (mostly the latter). Interested participants should create a CV that has meaning and attach it to an email – mystismonthly@gmail.com – of 10 words or less about the last time you indulged in or refrained from masturbation… make me feel your choice… the urge… the burden… regardless the in/action. Because sometimes doing something is as unremarkable as not doing it.

I have low expectations. We will meet once or twice and spend most of the course between and thereafter constructing an author-less, open ended written work via WhatsApp or Telegram making a mess over this indiscreet conveyor belt of artist-production that rather uncritically re-brands children with means as precious.

We might consider: Returning to Reims, Gentrification of the Mind, or The Undercommons recognizing of course that these were written from tenured positions within the University industrial complex, so I ask what might be written by an amorphous, self-determining outside?

NATIONALISM IS THE RELIGION OF EUROPE

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A reader suggested that my writing was losing focus… scattered… or whatever I don’t really remember cause unsolicited feedback never registers, I never benefit, and I am better off not knowing how wrong I’ve written or how reading me might be more pleasurable otherwise. I rarely ask people what they think because I believe polling is dangerous. Write now, in this moment, I am and have been for a month or so merely identifying shrapnel. It is okay if what I have doesn’t necessarily belong together. Many writers spend time forcefully filtering subjects and content to blend and become one savory piece, please try next time to read in those pieces what doesn’t belong together regardless the ways they might like to write it so, seamlessly. I like my readers feeling things I don’t, reading things between that I didn’t write, because this is reading and being in the now which is shared among GRINDR, Whatsapp, FB, the sub-groups and network-strangers infinitely within thereafter. The following hopes to marriage the then with the now, when I might have been called focused with now a loss of that focus… and how these bits of shrapnel are together regardless of belonging that way…

I recently sat through a terrible lecture on really bad, topical and didactic art dealing with the question of Islam in Europe… one of the professors insisted that the art does its doing regardless the artist’s intention, so when a white German dude artist sculpts a statue of a woman nude except the headscarf his positioning remains outside the question, as the piece, with its own agency, magically becomes an invitation for Muslim women to enjoy what nudism means in Europe. (The presenter of course does not consider nudism in its cultural connection to Nazism and its love of exhibiting the white body, nor in this specific context of art, the fact that Guerilla Girls posed many strategically avoided since questions of female nudes in museums circa 1985.) The other professor who scaffolds herself with the declaration that she uses empirical approaches—assuming maybe she owns unquestionable and correctly interpreted data—in very unimaginative agreement concluded that the uncovering of the body, done so on behalf of the unnamed caricature of a subject who is remarkable only for the headscarf, was a means to cultivate hybridity. Yes, my dear reader, academics still read the cultures of the world in tealeaves now labeled statistics promptly cleaned up by the vacuum of Europe, who has no interest in this business of change. There were a mountain of other problems in this lecture but its recording has yet to surface online for me to get my culture vulture on… and then the CDU and Merkel announced that the burqa is the problem of now… some passive aggressive lashing out at immigrants, refugees and guest workers–or Germans falsely recognized as such… but only those who are women, and only among them only those who see the burqa as a necessary expression of their faith. Funny how feminism lends itself to attacking women in the name of all women, and freedom finds itself in the business of arguing against the freedom of others: Terminology turns tricks.

Merkel’s plea to make everyone ‘the same’ under German law by limiting the faith expressions of women who are Muslim buttresses itself with the truly Satanic idea of National law overriding religious freedom. Somehow the scarf is inappropriate and prevents her from communicating with the many Muslim women she encounters??? The pseudo-empirical data loosely quoted in the Guardian says that Merkel and the CDU are having trouble communicating with all of 100 women here in Germany and some visiting tourists but Merkel speaks from a position that sounds much greater than this on behalf of people who suddenly feel outnumbered… for no legitimate reason. Feelings were always post-fact. Post-fact is not a new position. We’ve known irrational fears… observed with blind eyes intentionally… identified against others for no other reason than feeling together in doing so… Numbers and feeling, belonging and the violence it inspires when believing that the Nation is a more natural force than god, a force over god. But here, this is a moot point because NATIONALISM IS THE RELIGION OF EUROPE. So let us reconsider the words here, the order, because first isn’t the veil an act of speech? Culturally Germans cannot be held accountable for non-verbal communication regardless how direct and obvious, nuance is always lost in the cascade of this culture’s verbal diarrhea where men don’t stop talking until they’ve made their point at least 4 times and by then the women and others have done the work already.

In digressing even further from my initial subject of writing—shrapnel—simultaneously absolving myself of any real exhaustive critique of European academic inquiry—more shrapnel—perhaps I would enjoy crashing my canoe into the melting glacier of an emotional Feminism… now re-membering of porn as a tool for domination: I might like to mediate on what it is exactly that German men do… or what they imagine themselves doing… via my extensive research on the question of German porn, specifically porn that identifies itself as German, not merely in language but actively in name. The most prevalent contemporary German branded porn produced right here in Berlin is probably German Goo Girls. I first noted the company for its frequent crossover into gay porn for some fairly regular and gratuitous Bromance. Porn is increasingly becoming a homosocial space in which men meet each other regarding what they wish to do to women. A woman becomes the means for us to rub our dicks together. But first the women: The company produces exactly its name… over and over and over again and again: The face of a woman glazed, like a donut. However, the girls featured in German Goo Girls videos are in fact often not German… but rather frequently Eastern European. These videos are durational performances of sometimes gangbangs, but mostly just circle jerks around the featured woman, who may or may not be German. Because these videos are long, and like German conversation very redundant, I skip around and forget to jerk off, the end is always the same a lot of German Goo applied to the face of a woman, who may or may not be German. So the national identity stamp of German on the company’s name and brand modifies the source of cum, not necessarily the liberated woman receiving it. There are variations to this end: sometimes the men jerk off (in obscenely close proximity) together into funnel that the woman holds in her mouth to catch every juicy drop, sometimes there is pee, sometimes a second cum hungry woman (though usually just one is the receptacle), sometimes the men gather around a bowl deposit their German seeds and then dump the bowl of unified semen over their shared erotic prop which is actually the face of a woman, though that face becomes cumpletely obscured by the collective ejaculate… A reader here should notice the veiled face of a Muslim now a liberty under National question might also bring to the surface other German liberties and their communicative premise: What can you say with a load of cum in your mouth? Does that cum speak for you? Matter as words? Is the woman unveiled so that German men might only better imagine the way their cum droppings smother the contours of her face?

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The identity stamp “German” on this varietal of porn… far from niche… in fact rapidly becoming normal… is available to anyone willing to click 18+ and therefore in our post-national encountering of each other online bored horny borg boys grow up thinking Germans are sick motherfuckers. Before, not long ago at all, porn used to be somebody’s dad’s stash in a garage or basement… My porn studies began with my father’s huge porn collection. Huge. While most dads maybe had Playboy or Hustler, my dad was in the swing scene… with a stack of swinger magazines that feature very little pornographic imagery compared to the volumes text in personal advertisements. My 8 year old brain couldn’t really comprehend which ads my father might have responded to… which he fixated on… cause there would be SM or bisexual/cuckhold ads alongside the simple standard of wifeswapping. The exposure of youth to porn is no longer via somebody’s pervy dad and the limitations of his storage. Where there was once a human connection to who owns the porn, who’s erotic that content satisfies, instead porn online is a now explicitly solitary in acquisition and experience and I believe few persons are willing to tread into the conversations that matter regarding this rapid change in how we teach sex to children so passively. The production of self-conscious or affirmative porn just doesn’t make a dent in the arsenal loaded by our silence. Porn in amateur POV contexts becomes more and more a study in identity erotics: Gay American men who fetishize sexual contact with heterosexual service men will often feature Confederate flags or Wanted Dead or Alive OSAMA BIN LADEN posters in the background of negotiating the joys of sucking str8 cock while enjoying together white supremacy or unending war which makes our cocks both gay and str8 cum together… a random click on Xhamster will bring you to German sex tourism in Africa (Yes, there is no specific national modifier for the idea of Africa when Germans are on safari)… Greeks hidden-cam recording Thai prostitutes… Red Windows is a rather repellent tourist advertising apparatus for Amsterdam where they offer to pay for the prostitutes of visiting tourists in exchange for recording the encounter… they offer to do the haggling… find the specific type of fetish object for this vacation. They often smoke weed in addition to shopping for girls (again not specifically Dutch women of course, just simply a realm of exchange made available by the Dutch). The Dutch host of these videos (which are remarkably void of actual pornographic imagery but rather saturated with the process of acquiring a girl for money here in Amsterdam, where the weed is great, so cum!) is so uncharming, though to his credit he is somehow aware of his soullessness… selling women admittedly instead of some Western brand of freedom, at least we see the monetary exchange within these ad hoc terms of employment.

Legislating equality never works. One might think Christians would first argue against porn, instead of a scarf that expresses modesty? I use porn here as a means to observe the private-public realm of German culture. In a country that insists religious expressions of faith must remain exclusively in the private—with the exception of pseudo-Christian expressions of course—we must try to enter the private life and imaginary of strangers. Porntubes show us the number of views and likes… the comments of viewers… I might be bullshit bold enough to declare this approach empirical. Porn has always been a mechanism of support and redistribution of identity. This is obvious because it will always be in name, or named otherwise. It is straight white male until it’s called gay… anal… interracial… Oma… Asian. That which is not designed for the straight white male gaze will be titled otherwise so as to not pollute the gaze or offend the sensitivities of this, the most delicate identity among us. The production of individually tailored erotic renders Nationality an important erotic background for the “everyday man” which is now a vast difference from Radley Metzger’s assertion that the ultimate erotic film might only take place on the stage of international affluence… that his erotic journeys best avoided the details of how characters made their money while fucking. Erotic for 1970s Metzger depended on a suspension of the economic, for which all viewers might easily fantasize along with a character living in blind affluence (think here maybe Sex & the City versus Jeanne Dielman, where women talk about being successful though the work featured is only the working toward sex that maybe becomes true love with money… while Akerman’s subject works endlessly, saying almost nothing, particularly void of any fixation on love). Now, however there is a psychic slippage of the self on screen, whereas before one watched to see an imaginary ideal played out, here we have wankers hoping to see themselves… see themselves doing… what? Scarcity, the feeling of it, has folks scrambling to be on screen… culturally documented… or immortalized… but for whom?

Thus, the lives of Goo Girls reveal that Germans prefer the veil applied by men at the willful submission of girls who in doing so demonstrate for many contemporary thinkers ‘empowerment’ regardless what happens in the minds and beds of the wankers watching blow after blow of loads and more loads of cum, regardless how sexual liberation might be played otherwise by a woman who doesn’t follow the exact same script every fucking time just like the woman before her. While a woman of Muslim faith willfully covers herself in a public sphere to perhaps rightfully protect herself from the erotic “cultural” German Goo fantasies of men wondering the streets alongside her. I turn yet again to ask: What of PUSSY RIOT or my much more beloved Guerrilla Girls both set precedent for obscuring the face within contemporary Feminist discourse? Will their obscured faces be outlawed as well? Like Putin, Merkel? Brutally jailed for political expressions in a Church? Or criminalized and controlled for faith expressions in a culture where diversity is merely a self-congratulatory punch line branding a public superior while they wank away in private to this elitist erotic swathed in a scenery of National identity and its masturbatory inheritance as producers of truth… freedom and the constantly renegotiable terms with which one might be granted a life out from underneath bombs.

Here, I am wildly grabbing hold of a single signifier labeled “German” reading it as a universal reflection of all Germans while dipping my toe into the pool of problematic mismatching it with other misogynies. Many people, when I speak of work or healthcare, critique over and over, saying that I speak only from an American perspective. I am not egoistic enough to believe that I will ever write in the universal, nor will I ever live long enough in Germany to satisfy the cultural mandates of integration… I wouldn’t even say it’s on my bucket list… because being German or integrating will always be judged subjectively with rotating variables, approved or denied at random by one who believes himself an authority to do so. I think I am often writing about Germany, I just think many aren’t good at recognizing themselves within a not so nuanced negative. I came here to observe the post-national project, which I firmly believe needs religious expression, for its power to unite over and within national borders simultaneously. Those whose single expression and experience of faith is mulled wine and an advent wreath will never understand an identity that feels itself a soul oozing itself outside the national, and even outside the body… perhaps also across many borders and yet all the while never feeling outside oneself or belonging or purpose because that’s the beauty of god who is to be found everywhere, in anyone, at any moment. God takes away the burden of perfection… for those in the cult of intellectualism (a godless people really) the idea or feeling of perfection is actually a plastic bag in which ideas are smothered… kept from getting wet… or recognized for their disposable components. The fledgling failure of belonging in times of terror is the belief that at any single individual might somehow come and erase the entirety all of us at once which is an impossible human feat. National identity is the McDonalds of identity politics because regardless your feeling of belonging, or the legitimacy of your passport… the presence of a Bulgarian grandmother or having been born in America while your parents worked as diplomats will present itself as a stage on which some real national usurps your legitimacy within whatever truly pathetic conversational strategy to argue dimensions of natural or culturally produced supremacy… We learn languages while not paying for schoolWe have gay marriage we are not a homophobic country… We tell the truth regardless how it makes you feelWe are not passive aggressive, like AmericansWe don’t see race… there is only the human race…

Identity politics are a passive aggressive invocation, always. I am talking to you until suddenly I am defining myself against you, you and everything you are reduced to by the violent, perhaps characteristically European, assumption that my perspective of your culture is                    the  end of our conversation. Your individual doesn’t withstand my enjoyment of generalization… the way that all others become one thing… while I am the one who is not. You are welcome here, on my terms, which reserve their right to change at any moment. Whimsy. Terms change just like that. This Nation calls itself Christian when answering the question of Islam… considers itself free to pander porn which has been banned in several countries, porn in which a woman’s face is obscured… by semen… a veil of semen administered by men… to be worn in a public-private… trafficked to the hyper-solitary sexual lives of those around the world suffering from high speed internet. National orientation is the first question of any encounter within this post-national trough of slop for pigs… Nationalism the only testament here, where it replaces god… determines as if scientifically belonging. While often merely a series of bold albeit cliche cultural assumptions directed to someone like me, the habit formed in reconstructing the interpersonal gravity between nationals is only the habit of refusing to encounter in favor of maintaining a quite dull self, one who is only a National… every bit of which is explained by this extremely unnatural–very violent–apparatus. The Nation is legalized violence… a series of terms reinterpreting it otherwise.

a little trifle who argues big

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I haven’t been leaving the house. I rarely find it pleasurable. Even speech becomes a bit of an effort… so when I decided after the Racial Politics in Porn panel at the Berlin Porn Film Fest that my question was worth asking, it came like a wave of violence sloshing from my mouth: “Do you think maybe the compulsion to always claim empowerment in queer feminist porn makes an erasure of the traumatic that brings us here?” When asked to articulate further, I stuttered attempting to affirm: “I’m not tasking each of you individually with the production of images of trauma for me to jerkoff to…” Yes, after hearing 5 black queer feminist porn workers speak I was the white guy questioning the invocation of the word empowerment… Feel free to walk out now in protest if you must. I wasn’t questioning them as individuals but rather the queer feminist collective body to which the panel was formed in response to… which on many occasions, I’ve heard reclaim porn as a means to empowerment. I believe it’s important to consider the implied progress of yet simultaneously concealed dimensions of this progress in the very lofty promise empowerment, especially when we consider gay Pride… activists organizing around the desire to experience an emotion, the emotion of pride over shame.

The panel left me with two conclusions: One, I will never ask a Q & A question again, and two, I truly don’t care about porn, especially the queer feminist variation renaming porn empowerment. The project of sharing feeling is quicksand under the architectural plans of “safe” space. I know porn isn’t my problem (to teach, mold or argue against). It’s not that I require anything of the queer porn moment… I just don’t think queer porn will ever happen to/for me, because I am an open source wanker. While I’m in favor of all workers actively seeking to better terms of employment, I hold the same candle in the wind for someone hoping to make it in porn as I would for someone who wants to open a used CD shop… It seems simply, outdated media for money making now that the whole world of porn is free, no?

What is a politics of achieving an affect? Be it security, safe space, pride or empowerment? When groups of persons seek to share in the same affect it does little but set the stage for mobbing, coercion, extortion of resources or labor for personal gain… offering your personal access to empowerment as proof, reward and payout to those who experience a less explicit sense of the feeling, or goddess forbid any tangible share in that success. Regardless how questionable and subjective your own testament of feeling good, the politics of affect acquisition require total faith in the proclamations of its participants and shapers. We all mean well, even me (believe it or not) but this is an immature politics. In what ways is queer a community rooted in affect? The intoxicating pleasure of being wrong, to misplace desire and feel free of becoming empowered… realizing there’s very little one can ask of anyone let alone a group social… so the external variables that compose the individual’s sense of empowerment will change and become a myriad of other things, just as a normative middle class will chase happiness their entire lives.

Organizing around an affect is not any different than a group of boys who take GHB together. Some people make it to the other side of that experience. Others do not. Fine for drug cultures; however, the political body, that purporting to be community in the name of uplift, doesn’t get to so carelessly discard those who fail in its experiment. Politics is a conversation long after we’re gone. Those speaking against, vacating in the middle—their absence brings undeniable form to the political project. The lack… that which is not in the picture haunts the body politic, animates much more over time when the opposing view becomes common knowledge—right? Everyone loves narrating the complexity of the insider’s struggle. Look to a not so distant heroine who recently converted to an instrument of evil saying: The Boys Are With Bernie… Uttered in such arrogance and determination, here Gloria Steinem casts a shadow over her entire legacy… all that power she usurped from being lucky enough to get recognized as a foundational feminist… exerts itself against the political opinions of women, young and old, who simply disagree. Power erodes: that is its only promise. Feminism isn’t the means to argue becoming upper middle class! It’s not the tool of choice when wishing to ascend from having enough already to simply having more. Free market capitalism works for women now too—watch the L Word: LA Lesbians rather uncritically spending money everywhere playing commitment and career games.

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NYC Lesbians competitively play a trivia night in Green Point about the L Word… they even form study groups leading up to the event. Living the L Word, studying it… this is tricky… how is extreme wealth feminist? The strong hold of identity in reality TV… seeing “yourself” playing a role, played for you. Imagine that within a mere moment of meeting someone heterosexual, I ask why they don’t watch some stupid Big Brother bug-eating survivalist shit… not only would a straight person’s entire being drown in the audacity of my assumption that their identity play stems from watching truly bad TV… I would be dismissed immediately for believing that they too need a reality play of themselves in order to better exist. For me, the gaze of wonder that accompanies the question: “How can you not watch Drag Race?” is a disappearing act… I disappear because I cannot exceed or out perform their expectations without first dulling my mind with the learning of that drag language. For me, a lot of the drag I see—rife with its verbal black-facing—is done mostly because they imagine themselves one day there… reading that live script while rat racing to represent product lines and the suddenly cement-limited dimensions of ‘fierceness.’

There is no political high road: “When emptying a cesspool one cannot expect to come away clean” says Gary Indiana. We are a mess… and we in this room don’t have the faintest idea of the worst of it. Feeling good together communities versus feeling ‘okay’ apart, which is a much larger portion of our ability to be living alongside one another. Feeling bad is never a public gesture. Feeling bad is always supposed to be a private, isolated expression, but it’s not, because feeling bad is, I believe, quite normal—we could be together in that. Maybe church is a feeling-good community, in which you’re also allowed to feel bad some of the time. Faith falters, and even while in the progress of nothing, faith still does it’s job. (I do see faith communities as the only way to convincingly honestly and affectively enact a post-national project.) Invoking politics to achieve an outstanding, correct self… perhaps maybe as a fame-worthy being… this is the imaginary of finally feeling good, alone. But we know this is not the case. Fame eats the conscious. Recognition halts progress, experimentation and revision. Politics and her questions are not a moment to be seen being correct, nor should the discovery of all our wrong come as a comforting realization.

I am glad to be in a community that doesn’t heavily medicate, where medicated people don’t have guns… drunken driving doesn’t happen here like it used to in my hometown… in my family. These are affects… very valuable ones… but they are also larger than feeling when shared as social contracts. I cannot prescribe these elements of feeling from these experiences to masses of others from elsewhere, because how could I know? We, collectively, share little in the details of circumstance, experience of precarity and affect, or love and safety. Groups cannot cultivate emotions. We will never be equal in that sense. This is the lonely burden of the individual. Groups confuse this process of social contract development by regulating and controlling individuals with affect expectations, and so when lesser desirable affects are observed they are merely prescribed other redirecting affects of sacrifice, heroism, buck-up and wait your turn. Tough love thrown over the stick in the mud, the bad one who’s holding us back from feeling good actualizing our future… Political play from the radical side can mirror almost identically the gestures of the now revolutionized right where the concept of knowing plays almost exclusively second to the act of feeling.

Porn as prescription to empowerment isn’t naïve, it’s recruitment. Is there safe space within such a volatile network of desire? Is there a porn pension program or are those bodies supposed to recognize empowerment as saving for themselves? This regimented sharing of affect is cult behavior. No individual survives a cult because they are always defined by it thereafter… empowerment sounds neurotic instead of honest. Claiming an affect in lieu of sharing specific experience avoids the political project of deconstructing the self within it. You lose so much of yourself in politics of identity because it’s a losing battle. You think you’re going to fight on behalf of your own vindication, but then you’re asked to check your weapons at the door… suddenly for many, individualism becomes the only way thereafter.

Affect communities, like drug-takers, are not inherently radical… I am not certain that drug taking is conscionable—troublesome for most at the pharmacopornographic trough. Preciado’s Testo-Junkie fails entirely to consider how deadly drug addiction is to poor people without continents to hop… without the glamour of drug treatment that is like a spa for your soul… gender swapping in lower classes is not a recreational activity, let alone for those stopped and frisked. Persons who fail to read in Preciado the wealth of his multi-lingual tongue might think that studying architecture at Princeton is normal. It is not. Princeton is not a casual purchase. Study of architecture to write queer theory reads to me: Money enough to do whatever the fuck I want, whenever the fuck I feel like it. We read his feelings in Testo Junkie… his power in T without consequence… alongside his power to grieve, breaking the theoretical arc with personal biography in a way that intellectuals approve and that feminists also embrace. He makes useful observations, but medicated urban living is only affordable sustainably to some, so here cost prohibits the group from feeling his freedom… of movement… of job integrity… while his synapses fire away both legally and illegally.

The Miracle of Community… Elisabeth I love your willingness to have me perform something under that title. What I love about it is the immediate kinship among those who have experienced a miracle—that kinship being that most people don’t believe us. What comes as a miracle to one, might just be a given to others. Miracles are precious because they operate best in the realm of disbelievers… miracles carry us, as in the individual—we a single body believing, witnessing—feeling the fantastic—they carry that lonely soul beyond its breaking point… past the shards of others who have yet to realize their brokenness… What is a life spent in recovery? Especially if recovery of “the what” is such a question… Are we recovering the self we imagined to build from youth…. the self that would have boycotted and bled to prevent the future that is ours now presently… this space in which we know not how to act? How do we identify need in others when here thereafter need renders itself, for us, a theoretical space?

Recoverists have us believing that we were once better? Recoverists are sifting sand, artifact-checking for a past that might still bring us somewhere, else. The past only resurrects hauntings that guide… distort and pervert our self-interested in/actions. Born this way, miraculously born with what we needed… so much so that we don’t recognize need biting us in the face… a need of a new way of being… which is why we drink and drug to feel our being differently. Survival may not be ours, but we are no sacrificial lambs… much worse than we imagine… still having everything, still thinking we suffer loss… hoping that we recognize need in feeling together. Intellectualism doesn’t save us from barbarism… the flat on your face folly of claiming only self-betterment… the claiming of knowing cultures… navigating the world like a game of chess… is for the ego… a portrait of an artist as wounded little self … an unbearable project of becoming a little trifle who argues big. We are not the important ones.

We should work to erase ourselves from history… because we don’t want to be remembered this way, in some hyper-record of social non-events. The wages of work were always death… so we raised the stakes… by working a lot on nothing in particular. Feelings and gravity are incongruent—empathy is a flawed charity at best… We share in very little because we share almost nothing… certainly not our stupidity, self-serving weaknesses, addiction to pain martyrdom and survivalist ideation… In what way does one manage their own incongruence, walk away from the group… be it the political collective… the housing collective… the family… the Church… and experience peace in a world of strangers closing in? Why does anyone take to the stage with a basket of her worst material?!? The stage is for triumph and there’s no triumph without rehearsal… is that what makes the stage a space for telling unbelievable lies? For feeling lies believable? The fracture of a star, a leader or a savior elevated to clear us while we love them for what they are not… adore them for suppression. Fear? Does fear really transfer, or does it get confused with rage? Public feelings are an externalization of the problems of an incoherent self. Help me feel together—inside?

Queer is not carte blanche

The Intercept’s After Orlando Massacre, Queer Art Takes a Political Turn “triggered” me with the naive, or also self-serving and defensive, question: What isn’t political about queer art? I don’t consider myself Post-Orlando, because I am not yet Post-Matthew Shepard or Post-Brandon Teena or Post-Columbine–too much of these events, these individuals, remain for me still, though more fashion forward thinking queers might just yawn and move on… perhaps revealing a dimmer, more smothering truth: What is so queer about being political? I acknowledge the counter-productivity of queers killing queers with critique, when every gesture called queer must be microscoped for language, affect baggage and everything else that keeps us feeling so alone in our politics, and so misunderstood by others… but aren’t we used to that by now? Drawing the frame as feminist or queer invites critical response. Isn’t that the form in which we work and live and try to make love? In dealing with the good and the bad which is queer, I am currently writing a larger piece on what Dudes Do in Art and how that informs or perverts the spectacle when one of us ‘makes it’ which is my peace gesture to all the self-identified queer artists I refuse along the way in whatever it is that I am doing. Don’t take any of this personal because I believe art might just be a failed medium. I do think queer artists go after each other in really detrimental ways considering we are supposed to be making the world safer for beings to share perspectives in lesser marked ways; however, certain rogue individuals confuse the term queer with their feeling of carte blanche. Queer is about excess, and its limitations. But a smaller moment has occurred in print, a hiccup in the developing of queer history as lived in the now, today, written up in New York Times Magazine on the triumph of visibility that is Relationship a new coffee table book of photographs by the “homecoming king and queen of the trans movement” according to Jill Soloway creator of “Transparent,” and I have to say something… I am not surprised, but really history isn’t made in real time so let’s not imagine a savior among us just yet, besides who remembers their homecoming king and queen after all this time anyway?

I realize that the author is playing visibility with the show title transparent, which is what the show is doing as well, but the politics of who sits on the throne of representation… those who willfully become the face and branding of a liberation movement is and will always remain a minefield. I watch “Transparent” and I like it. It is contributing to a conversation, however “worldview-changing empathy machine” as labeled by its very producer Rhys Ernst is a pitch I won’t catch. How in 2 seasons of a show does worldview change??? Empathy, yes, I agree we need more empathy. So from this shared desire for more empathy production, I will attempt understanding a person who believes their visibility works on behalf of a greater good, that their inclusion and success is representative of structural change instead of re-branded business as usual. I love the optimist, but I recognize that one is made such only by a comparative judgment of who is pessimist and what between them constitutes real. I don’t expect everyone shares the same “triggers” (a word I hate and quote in jest as a means to implicate myself in the variable success/failure of call and respond queer online lyfe) but the article is loaded with a very non-queer perspective that I believe makes this pair destined to assume the world is now safer for them: CalArts, Hampshire College, SVA, supportive parents, and homemade tabbouleh sound like a recipe of success. Persons of such pedigree are good at arguing on behalf of themselves, demanding that their ideas are valuable given the considerable monetary investment in their matriculation, they are not merely consultants–they should be producers, Amazon should sponsor Trans Pride LA and they take credit for brokering such a deal, when consulting for “The Danish Girl” Rhys Ernst recommends the studio also give a tangible donation to a different trans project directed by none other than: Rhys Ernst. These schools, these successful families, these typical steps over the escalator of success here claim identity as their means to exceptionalism.

I understand the allure of believing the world will only better embrace Modernity while looking at your life’s work, and that somehow life will be forever illuminated by your particularly queer narration, because it is so much easier to believe your inclusion, your means of success is a reflection of good rather than just another iteration of violence. But queer art isn’t simple or happy go lucky, it’s difficult. Your urban designer boyfriend’s clothing crisis, or your mother’s prom dress accessorizing consultation make the NYTIMES reader feel good about their society, so I understand the impulse to trivialize gender regimes so as to keep a reader reading and feeling on the right side of history for doing so, but this is dangerous, and persons of branded education and considerable means should be accountable for such callused-from-feeling-maybe-too-good lapses of judgment. While wealth might be the means to eliminate violence in your own life (end your encounter of street violence by hiring a driver, end bullying by going to a more expensive school that markets itself for loving your difference, quit your job under an unappreciative boss and sit on your ass waiting for another to come along), it is also the violent means with which you live (streets don’t have to get safer for those you no longer walk alongside, lesser funded schools don’t have to become nurturing because the children in them are sacrificial as the important voices of today came from elsewhere naturally, and bosses don’t have to change because there will always be someone poorer who must take their shit).

For me, “Transparent” gains most of its complexity in its exposure of wealth. Those gifted with wealthy parents are allowed to suffer the fullest gesture of their every mundane internal conflict. Maura’s brats inundate the plot with every childish whim made into very public shit storms: remodel an already designed house, move back home where there’s plenty of room for you and your multitude of failures, get married again, an expensive wedding in the toilet crying again, major in Women’s Studies (follow always your heart not some normative, patriarchal career path), imagine yourself a tenure-track professor on the side of true justice fucking your students while your colleagues rot underpaid as adjuncts, buy a dominatrix to deliver you the beating you know you deserve being so ungrateful for all the resources you’ve consumed still not acquiring happiness. Wealth does this, it indulges the individual with the delusion that there is no price tag on happiness, that all expenses in its pursuit are justified. This cult of happiness is the blind spot from which ZackaRhys fail to recover sight of others whose needs are more tangible than being seen as beautiful and happy.

I don’t believe that paging through Relationship will be any different than the vast limitations I mourned watching She Gone Rogue. That which the NYTIMES describes as “dreamy,” I call Disney. I know that in LA power-coupling is valuable currency, the article rather uncritically reveals ZackaRhys as serial-cohabiting queers, but the function of the couple and its establishment of a baseline norm from which mass culture can connect and therefore allow you to exist because you’re not that queer, unskillfully avoids dealing with the substantial body of queer theory that challenges marriage/coupling privileges. (And if this attack seems too personal, realize that is the content they provided for me to consume and respond.) Indeed, She Gone Rogue concludes a cliched or at best inarticulate inner conflict via traveling the world in search of a wholeness found in a rather unspectacular representation of a love relationship between Zackary and Rhys, as if all ends happily whole thereafter… though now, thanks to the NYTIMES, we know otherwise… Rogue trans history is embodied by the Rolodex of contestable art stars the power couple were granted access to play their uninteresting love story in the company of… history as a prop in front of which you assume your unimaginative middle class pose.

For the Whitney Biennial the couple pose as life lived beautiful in photos unconvincingly called art, though apparently never intended to be art, by Stuart Comer whose understanding of queerness will be forever at odds with mine in the most uninteresting, uncomplicated ways. I understand when the heterosexual world wishes to end everything on its procreative promise of young love–they who imagine the self so beautiful that it’s unthinkable not to recreate it all over again, I get when gays do the same in buying a condo or a baby… but queer art doesn’t tie the knot, it unravels success coupling it with inextricable violence. Love is a lesser complex journey than the management of composure when reconciling with violence and your investments in it. Photo essays performing heteronormative representations of love sell queerness to the mainstream: You love us, we who mirror you. This commits an erasure of the un-couple-able… the unworkable… those still outside desire… the true perverts without desire to accrue desire… those who refuse Instagram culture because: looking is not knowing.

What is the dream they wish to represent? Trans persons looking more beautiful than the middle class? Or looking and being however the fuck they want alongside whatever lesser the desirable realities they suffer to inhabit? Or in a truly drunken suggestion: maybe simply not being burdened with being looked at? What is liberation via the lens of Hollywood? Who wants their face to become a symbol? Especially when time has her way and that symbol, that face of yours, might only represent the lack in your vision, the selfish nature of the fruits you produced, the cold shoulder required of all business professionals selling ideologies of freedom and safety and love in mass culture.  What do they do with their power? Make middle-aged transguy buddy movies? Yes, apparently this broken form (that of the deceptively benign buddy movie where white men demonstrate their power to find power in failure, or in doing absolutely nothing, while somehow sating the expectation of their audience) will yield further explorations of how trans/queer people earned their right to be as boring and apolitical as the society around them… the society whose negligence once made them suffer so???

For those with righteous reasons to be unhappy the need for happy/healthy representations is a disciplinary structure without regard to the many, dare I say the majority of queers not really loved by their families, not affirmed by their work environments, not safe from predatory lovers or the police who intervene… lest we even consider the number of queers suffering among the plight of some 65 million stateless, forcibly displaced refugees. She gone rogue you are!!! Rather than looking to a very recent history of queer critique of corporate pride sponsorship, the limitations of what pride and visibility actually accomplish, or perils in commodified identity, intimacy and privacy, this article celebrates the both of you for making trans queerness palatable thereby congratulating a bored middle class for gazing without scorn. Your professional aspirations are not rogue, working from such a limited script, they are dreadfully stuck in business as usual. The power of a trans movement (if there is a cohesive unit to claim as such, or maybe simply: many isolated individuals contributing to a dialogue with many variable dimensions) is found in its growing, and already vast, body of literature critiquing not simply the middle class Western world but compounding more revolutionary aspirations like ending prisons, strengthening labor rights and healthcare, immigration with dignity, and mandating for a more holistic conception human rights… Trans explorations of identity subvert the very nature of being categorized, and here you’ve allowed the entirety of your careers to be categorized as trans, glazing over the convenient fact that you were born with the power to avoid its more violent gravity… merely picturing yourselves, almost as if gloating: We have arrived!

Perhaps this queer conundrum is more accurately portrayed when letting a general public see themselves choosing which role they play: American Reflexxx? Or maybe the politics of visibility, however the presentation of self and wherever the experiment of presentation, is coercive practice without considering the violence with which people look toward that which isn’t them… however fluid that conception of sameness might be. When called into question, violent culture rarely does anything other than redirect itself toward acceptable targets, however fluid that conception of acceptable might be.

Da Da Daddy HasselhoFF

Thanks Raoul and Markues for the tour on Tuesday (as well as Vince and Alicia and NGBK for the curatorial project: Father Figures Are Hard to Find). I had to reconsider a bit of my own feelings of displacement within this context after hearing the very candid and loving ways in which you both spoke of the works you selected for this exhibition. It was very smart because it was honest. I hate when people try to shroud exhibitions in obscure non-language, leaving pieces as strangers in a room. I really appreciate your forthcoming reveal of intention in this exhibition theme, which initially for me was simple and direct yet somehow still difficult to manage. It’s hard to know what level to take things in art… the lived at odds with the performed… staged honesty, if you will, can feel really well intended but can also feel incredibly fake.

I do not want to take away your right to be disappointed in me. It’s 100 percent okay to be disappointed and annoyed. I am not the solution. I’m not a solutions broker. I’m a problem. With a historical present full of inarticulate problems it is important to see problematizing as fruitful. It acquaints us with their variable dimensions. I’m not attached to the idea of always being an artist… I’m not in need of turning this shtick into a career model… I’m happy to realize myself as ‘part of the problem’ so long as the problem becomes more known in this process. We have to recognize the problem. For most college educated white kids born in the right hemisphere, daddy isn’t the problem… it’s the search… the interrogation of an imaginary in which others had the ‘real’… what was supposed to be… This indulgent exercise of not feeling a father as some guiding divinity requires a reckoning with cliché and the management of expectations more so than a struggle to actualize a self in therapy. Therapists are affective sales consultants and so are artists.

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In the name of expectations management, I would like to say what you’re not going to get from me first: Entertainment. People expect to be entertained by gender performance and increasingly in art. I however prefer to stock my boredom in the same place as its surplus. Especially among gay people… since the invention of beards en masse it’s such a lacking erotic imaginary that I feel merits my very apathetic approach to the production of smiles, adoration or whatever a ‘queen’ is supposed to accumulate in the place an honest profession. I don’t do masculinity studies, nor do I acknowledge masculinity studies as a legitimate sphere of thought. Instead conceiving of myself as some social blockage in the digestion of an art fag network is only my symbolic means of feigning off apocalypse. I’m not a spectacle provider… I prefer uninvited advances… sexual offers with no follow through… Always alien to lip synching (which perhaps explains my alienation to professional practice in general), I’ve been most interested in the distracted ear and its intersection with unsolicited truth, when the serious sounds like a joke. I’m difficult. But this is not a strategic move, because honestly, there is no calculation in what I do with my life. So in a gesture of rare doing, I might for a moment imagine this exhibition as some interrogation room built to fill many holes in the story. I think so much of the perceived paternal conundrum stems from the normalization of lack or scarcity in a neurotic cult of self-actualization—this thing we are never sure actually happens.

Identities are a house of cards. It’s the same wind that blows it down every time. You might get faster and more intricate with each rebuild, but again the same inevitable wind blows, and for a moment, one might feed on this subverted status that so violently collapses as there certainly is a meditative repetition involved in such persistence; however, the heartbreak of realizing such a limited project of selfhood and its unimaginative doneness is rarely survivable. So for a moment let me explore in this interrogation room the lack, the thing that art does not do, so that we might together avoid the rather explicit violence of art usually buried under the rubble of good intentions. Viewing Art. Curating Art. Creating Art… these are seemingly well intended but the outcome, the product, the discourse cannot simply avoid its lack with the invocation of good intentions. So here in my case, there is a lack of confidence in my speech, a strong disbelief or mistrust in my ability to register truth or evaluate injustice, in addition to a very suspect addiction to negativity while also hosting a strong ambivalence toward the project of fathering which will make me welcome here for all of 10 seconds. Because it’s hard to make expressions of lack a teachable encounter, especially in an art world increasingly more individual (a territory always assumed to be whole), and explicitly fetish with regards to difference and its repackaging as fashion. Difference cannot be the empty hole you were born into… no it must be that defining undeniable characteristic you must name and account for it. The lack and absence always add complexity to the reading of an encounter… lack is so often palpable and yet because it’s a not-encounter it never survives critique as actual evidence.

If I had a physical object practice… If I was a painter let’s say, I would probably just install an airbag in a canvas designed to keep you from looking too closely, to save you from searching too long for something that cannot be found in a painting. There is so much wrong with our very tangible present that I don’t believe we’re ready for intricacy. A bloody nose is a better, more meaningful outcome than the study of brushstrokes and shadow. But isn’t the idea of an airbag exploding from a canvas… breaking your neck to save you from the black hole of painting… isn’t the idea better than actually making it happen? Making a painting about the dead horse of painting is not worth my efforts… because I don’t want to contribute to the belief that painting does something…

Please don’t place me in a category of real. Some piece of Eurotrash who expected accolades for riding the winds of change toward modernity once asked me if I wanted to be a real queen… cause she knows someone… This is not a positive self-representation right? THIS IS NOT A WORKABLE SELF! Please forget the other scenes of realness and simply register this (me, body before you) as a fairly bitter portrait of actualization. I’m not utopic. I don’t believe that I’m in communion with all queens, queers or genderfucks. But regardless of difference in aim or value, I don’t believe that I’m in a rat-race competition either. This attitude echoes on to how I feel about art.

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Admitting what is not here is not speaking for those entities, but rather registration of our lacking ability to see them. I believe this is what makes the search for a father figure hard… it’s the confusion of togetherness and belonging, inheritance and endowment, alongside the lesser desirable anachronisms and their binding, violent masturbatory repetition in a senseless becoming.       Father figures could quite simply be scaffolding for power.               Belonging isn’t currency I exchange.   Legacy for me is burdensome love.     Therapy practitioners are affective renovators guided mostly by prejudice and immature science.

What if art actually reflected life instead of ego and spending power? Monuments can always be overturned … stories and memories told differently so what is the toil with objects… making objects for ideas? I have said that people animate objects with meaning so as to absolve themselves the burden of living with meaning on the inside. I see the telling of a Father story as mostly the telling of a self with a puppet, so the first portion of this moment we share will be a more direct introduction, because I’m not under the impression that I’m known to each of you… and certainly you haven’t heard my side of the story recently.

The form of tonight was initially the form of a 2014 intervention I entitled Master’s Tool Is Unpaid Labor Feminist Practice? I assembled various relic documentations from a series of haphazard choices I had lived randomly as art. I am not sure I would call those videos art anymore, but I used their production model of self-finance from a day job and their ambivalent road-to-nowhere aesthetic, presentation and perspective to remind self-identified queer/feminist producers in Berlin that in a post-conceptual art world, no amount of money will replace the lacking idea… no camera lens or professionalized crew will make a bad script string of clichés into something watchable or worthwhile, let alone politically moving. That politics, when played before the camera but abandoned within the production, are only an artistic media rather than heart. That we cannot let Feminism become a marketing line, so if professionalized artistic career is your aim over political exploration, then careers in art which suck blood via unpaid interns, crew, crowd-funding websites and social media campaigns certainly is your prerogative albeit not a Feminist one. I understand the artist invoking exploitation in their get-rich-quick scheme, but within models of community and friends, know that alienation comes long before the riches… Best intentions are not an acceptable defense in the face of failed feminism. Political lenses are about changing the self much more than the singular ‘self’ changing the world.

I don’t crowd-fund. My parents would never spend money to support my artistic pursuits so I do not expect my friends to either. Patrimony was another reading I performed in summer 2015 that I believe is the reason for my inclusion here in the father figures search party. Patrimony is the money or the estate left behind by a father… Patrimony was also for me the hidden media that so many, so so many creative city kids used within their projects: living in apartments purchased by their parents, traveling abroad, expensive schools also partially or entirely funded by parents… etc. They speak as though it’s natural to work for free or underpaid, as though they also understand struggle, which isn’t true at all. Patrimony was in my imaginary what I would do if I were to crowd source… What would I do with bodies or labor? So I read my theory shtick before breaking my audience, mandating that their perspectives become that of furniture in a psychoanalyst’s office… that they embody the non-human perspective that certain theory snobs use to avoid the admission of their complicity in needing hierarchy… I made my audience into my Freudian couch, then I laid down hard and spilled my guts out, before blaming them for following my lead in the first place. Because Art, in the participatory that which requires an affective hand in order to become, is not worth it.

Slowly in this form, one that is neither academic nor particularly artistic (though maybe a faithless drag number of the two), I’ve actually gone on to make commentary on the crisis of art and the strategic violence of these good intentions. I believe that good intentions should be naked. Their aim and failure are valid resources for learning. This would be the process of learning together rather than performing togetherness under forged assumptions of sameness. Artistic hopefuls must imagine themselves, their ideas and aesthetics in addition to their political profile, as superior. The best means to dupe is when Abstraction Is Bubble Wrap for Damaged Goods. A video and accompanying essay, I made earlier this year about call-out culture and the stage for abuse when everyone must believe the artist well intended… When their violence gets labeled passion or authenticity. While call-out culture resembles more the urge to reposition social orders instead of learning change together, I don’t believe bringing to question the outcomes of specific artist projects is about reordering so much as relearning. Why if you have all needs met do you expect to be pleased? Is that what art does? Insider jokes? Cult mythologies believed as life changing truths? Tapping into the universal as if that’s not actually just the PLAIN… the typical? Discovering artistic personas FIRST like oil booms and gold rushes… When artistic neighborhoods rebrand the ugly as beautiful and trash as expensive.

Moving beyond my disclosures of a questionable standing as an artist maybe I should utilize this entire space as a means to cast my shadow over a historical present… is this maybe a grasp at lineage … a means of measuring … But first remember that the reach of my power has been managed right? Didn’t the title of tonight already manage to disappoint you regardless the outcome? Let me just admit that I don’t believe myself capable of doing what I’m going to do… Furthermore, a critique or even a scathing review is not a thing when packaged from this source… If Mysti says you’re not feminist who cares?!? Authority, I have none. Really, let us not make political sewage from a question we should all be asking ourselves. I don’t view feminism as an argument, I see it as a solution. If you’re a bad father, or a wretched little brat, this is a subjective stance and you probably know immediately the ways in which you are not bad… unless of course you are, bad. (Again, how does rugged individualism bring us to a group social that mandates unconditional affirmation? I’m not saying love yourself, that mantra got us here… but the management of your identity is a project of yours alone, neither fathers nor friends can help you from feeling the worst labels as a very real possibility.) Feeling alien is a prescription for health in late capitalism. Shit doesn’t sell the way it used to. Belonging only ever established an exterior. So efforts to exist here among objects that I find too overtly reflect the very anachronism the show claims to pervert … have me at odds with your expectations that I should do art right now. But, I love to disappoint, ask my dad…

We need to sacrifice divine origin. We need to just be people… People who can simply step aside when they’ve said their piece… People who don’t monetize their friendships or see spending money as the mandate of real in artistry. Artists of the Western hemisphere don’t make themselves from nothing. Part of registering lack is admitting what is not nothing… For what duration do I expect to be loved by you my pathetic substitute for an Art World, especially when I slip in that value judgment? When should I wean myself off the spotlight so as to preserve my dignity? If here I am to contend with the masters… in a room of people working without masters… First I might ask: What if art is a disappearing act? What if rather than a means to immortality and legacy, it’s a fracture… something you’ll barely recognize next year? Even some of my beloved James Baldwin’s later novels went on to disappoint me, and all for the best.

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Dahn Vo is contemporary art’s daddy’s boy and let me say he’s not the problem. This would be a stupid intervention if this were its claim because he’s rich, he won, 2 pavilions simultaneously. Let me ask: Why is everyone drinking the same Kool-Aid? When everyone drinks that same Kool-Aid do we really see the same differently? Or are we just gonna fucking die dull boring deaths like everyone else? Duh, he’s not the problem, but I will say that family or human beings as media is a problem. Again, biology and paternity are not inherently sacred nor is the spectacular violence of such a system ever seen outside the mundane yawn of life as anything other than a bearable hurtle. Sacred paternal journeys of immigration do not saint-like spawn ordain. Please don’t read them as such.

The Statue of Liberty reproduced but left unassembled alongside the uni-bombers typewriter… I could have a slide of this work projected. It probably is unfair to summarize a much more complex work with these words, but art isn’t about justice. And, since what I’m doing is having the conversation with my father about this room, a conversation that won’t happen, an exchange that will not be, I will favor the style of discourse with my father that I remember… cause if I were talking to my father about this piece of work he would shut me up. The gaze of my father… looking at Vo’s work would see it ridiculous, laughable at best, if not offensive. And if I dared press him for an opinion he would say: That’s fucking stupid. Maybe this is a beautiful moment in art… that across a great many barriers in thought and experience, values and systemic perspective, on this particular piece my father and I are brought together in agreement: Production costs, storage, shipping. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Meaning. Trite.

I’ve watched Vo’s father write a letter, while Vo and Marc Siegel attempted to unpack the complexity of the performance… one entirely dependent upon the audience believing that family members cannot exploit one another and that affective performance of such literal reenactments is not fetish but enlightening, not merely projection but universal. I’ve heard it said that his father writes the letters because he’s very well compensated for his role in their physical production and mailing, while the affective attachment to his relation to Vo might be the cache for Vo’s career it remains to me an uncomfortable question… Because if I had money, an internationally collected practice, and if my father needed money… He would think me an asshole if I offered him a job instead of just giving him money… Especially if that employment required the public performance and long winded narration in addition to its documentation of his new role as a father employed his son. People when you get rich, you’re supposed to give people money.

The gravestone for his father, which features neither his name nor his birthdate instead a quote sourced from John Keats, is also art. It was purchased by the Walker Art Center, and it will reside in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden until his father dies at which point it swaps for some personal items of his father before being shipped to the family plot in Europe. Yes, folks, Vo has made the death of his father a working day for your affective wonder and for his considerable profit. Do you know what my father would say if I asked to design his head stone as art? Didn’t name him? Wrote in a language he doesn’t speak, that my siblings can’t read? There are many layers in that grudge… none of which would produce poetry worthy of declaring a person Art, because Art isn’t always the highest standing and for good reason. When you reduce his work to personal loss as Artistic spectacle, you find a very difficult precedent for young artists within a cannon that mandates seeing itself in their work. Are we all to go forth making our most private relationships symbolic happenings? Rather than affect as a mechanism for learning it degrades into manipulated material for production with curious intentions.

If I assumed the role of artist and propositioned my father as a similar medium in my oeuvre would I be a bad artist if I couldn’t convince him? A bad son? Would my father lend himself so speechlessly to being a channel of art? No, he wouldn’t trust me, and he wouldn’t indulge such a vapid audience either. Hard to find… Father is everywhere in this story… making it harder to identify the objective of this search party. I don’t see poetry there… it’s just not. And anything above a trite maybe characteristically sadistic cliché it will not be… such resources dedicated to such individual specificity places the mass, the unforgivable flight of many under the affective monumental rubble of one…one who wants to wear a Rolex watch. Whose singular tale of migration is worth more than the entirety of now? Our lack: those behind fences, bulldozed in Calais, a warehouse of souls in Greece long since starved of democracy… those who simply wish to move into Germany’s burning buildings.

Our search party continues…finding the conversations we are not having. I am not here speaking on their behalf. I’m establishing our lack. The thing that’s hard to find here in our search… what promise if found does it hold? If I wasn’t so certain that the obsession with paternity, or ‘where your parents come from’ didn’t instantly bring us to the cesspool of white supremacy and European elitism disguised as a bland cultural soup, I might actually dry some tears tonight. Smile at some family photos. Put my mouth on some DILF dick. But, we’re at an impasse of art. The conversation isn’t abstract it’s just not here. That is the nature of value outside the imaginary. There are so many variations of paternity… Love has also a not dissimilar quality to perpetually evade our grasp as long as we redefine its terms, promises and compromises without end. Money and means and the establishment of worth could also be theoretical. An unchanged art market sells non-object ideas as gold… but my question is when will these ideas exchange? When can we abandon the encryption of objects and artifacts for a more direct way of saying things, one honest about its non-discovery, its kinship with prejudice, and waste, shameless waste? Call off the search party and just sit with what is… Not a taboo just a lack?

What am I doing here? Creating a poor, albeit conversational summary of three of my projects alongside 3 professional, monumentally known works of Vo?? Am I here to do the show? Shake the cannon like a jar of bees? Take these artworks like they’re my props. Spit blood and declare what’s MINE? When oblivious intention uses accident and coincidence like destiny before claiming divination? What I always knew to be mine… these conditional sentiments made forcibly an altar unto the self. With so many trying to teleport, reading the same text simultaneously in 4 hemispheres, exposing photos in diametric opposite ends of the globe on solstice or some eclipse… Marrying things that previously technology and travel denied possibility and now bored art kids find them reasonable expenses to present literal processes for trite, sentimental and apolitical or politically neutered assumptions as if a shared discovery of that insurmountable distance that Art tries to deny by making us see the wonder of abstracting the impossible. Metaphysics of micro phoning the inside of a tree trunk and radioing its deafness into a gallery… recording sunlight levels from last week and running up an electricity bill recreating that light frequency one week later… Open my can of shit in 10 years and tell me I’m god then… Smell god.

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Post Colonial, Post National, Post Gender. Premature ejaculation trigger warnings. Help me I’m an artist trying to die for my work… I am dying to be on both sides of history and then righteously ambivalent about everything else thereafter. Race through space—fucking everywhere—yet somehow miraculously left in one uninteresting piece. One should revel in the arbitrary nature of celebrity… the import/export politics. I’m not trying to usurp that throne. I’m just trying to imagine a space actually outside a cannon. Because aesthetics don’t unite, they are at best authenticity drag, if not camouflage for accidental albeit violent tyranny. Or complicity? Irony of art is that the sacrificial is only the perceived means rather than a shared destiny… burden… or transformative promise. I think that’s why so many kids cling to daddy… He pacifies deadly dreams while convincing you that you were always good. A port in the storm of Neoliberalism.

I’m gonna loosely quote Spivak of all people right now… She said it’s a very Christian idea to believe that suffering makes you a good person. My problem is that we in a room contemplating parental pains and conflicts of cannon have a very separate threshold for suffering… so let us suspend our belief that gravity affects us the same… make folly of the struggle to flatten… pervert or whatever… And see a different destiny, one in which the object of the idea… the document the ephemera or the pseudo-social contract decompose when we together lose our shit. Lose our shit because we might not be worthy of being Art Princesses and Conceptual Priests, that maybe the world we want to create doesn’t have room for those personalities… Maybe it’s not an art critique, but call to lose control, or your delusion of controlling legacy, which is relatively limited in capacity anyway. Expanding the horizontal sacrifices stardom… makes most of your spectacular mundane… probably also unworthy of meditation. Thus, the power of art consumes inevitably the self and its worth, when finally the soul breaks enough times to become stranger to herself. There’s no monument, no shrine, no sacred lineage and no ever-existing mythology to the author doing that…

Self-Textualization.

Because I don’t spend much time making a work, nor did I ever learn officially the ways in which to read or see work, I’m not surprised when people fail to see what I set out to do. And my dear reader, if the first sentence of this piece made you cringe, know that I’m also not certain I should have written it or allowed you to read it. Coming clean with the sharing of intention feels like the opposite–so sticky and abusive. The post-NEA-4 generations of artists declaring themselves universally absolved of the responsibility of sharing meaning, or even simply acknowledging very debatable value of intention in their work is indeed the genesis of ABSTRACTION IS BUBBLE WRAP FOR DAMAGED GOODSWhat is the harm in knowing and addressing the limitations of your work, your person, your intention, your resistance to change?

I will say that the narration of my little video identifies the subject of the film as time rather than tattoos, but somehow I knew the topic would be triggering for my audience ; ) cause even when I state, that it’s not tattoos but rather trends of reading and possessing (or tyrant-ing) time by rhetorically dancing around (versus with) others, the question of tattoo appraisal still persists. So it is with good reason people ask about tattoos. Tattoos were the hook. Because the video was impulsively produced for a  small group screening at Spektrum, and not wanting to give it my all, I took a fragment from a larger work in progress that I liked but had omitted… what other neighborhood on Earth is riper for dialogue on body modification? And what a boring, non-discussion that would be…  A conversation to pass the time until finally electrified by true inspiration?

Tattoos are such an easy distraction. My Mazzy Star swan was once called out in a 2008 LA pool party among younger than me up and coming artists. I didn’t realize at the time they had all gone to really expensive art schools and their positioning reflected maybe nepotism rather than content; I had assumed there was simply meaning that I couldn’t grasp… but in later evaluations, I trusted myself enough to restate criteria: When gifted with the best mentors in culturally rich cities, aren’t you supposed to be moving mountains now? So when asked: Wait where did thaaat come from? I should have resisted differently… this video is the retracing of my steps in thought. Luckily in LA, complete avoidance is natural conversational expression: Ohh, it’s just this thing, I said full stop. The meaning of their modifications was much more covert… or smartly strategic avoiding of sense?

This general rebellion among college students actively pursuing bodies poorly fit for professional environments might reflect progress, clearly the body intentionally self-designed as foreign to middle class work environments imagines its success in other spheres, but their lacking consideration for how else one’s means might be made leaves me suspicious. This revival of stick and pokes among college educated adults fairly reads as cultural slumming, and outside of this simple value judgment, while worth consideration, I’m not sure it is worth an entire conversation, definitely not a facebook call-out thread. Is it appropriating prison tattoos? Or bored adolescents bating parents? The accusation of cultural slumming is never taken lightly… But, I am ambivalent about its power as weapon in the arsenal of producing legitimacy and its others, cause again, this isn’t the type of conversation I want a part in… I’m most interested in the ways that queer theories keep us from conversation and change rather than facilitating it.

My bare arm over years under stage lighting has earned its eye rolls (as acknowledged in the video), and I relish the indulgence of this video project for its help in my repurposing my swan as the ideal texture for my embrace of the abject in drag, but my first concern is when such a benign stroke of tasteless becomes means to cruelty and harmful to the production of professional artistic persona, especially among queer personas… who should know better… who have cultivated taste for unflattering histories, incongruent love and miscalculated living. My swan and the stick and poke were, in my eyes, relative equals with only variable readings produced in time as determining judgments of taste. Relativism is an unforgivable practice; MYSTI is a guilty subject. Queer theory’s interpellations is often masked relativism with acknowledged limitations. Let’s be clear: Art making is little more than rendering others obsolete and queer theory has become the bratty little sister ready to take her turn–to fail just like the siblings before her. How else to be special and possess value without being mean? Maybe the need for canonization, the need to draw from an infinite history made only more abstract over time (especially in theory) while also knowing everything about the now before after and during the brave catapulting of self into the fucking future so fucking far into that future you’re not even here with me now is the hollowing of community that renders persons tools, steps and assemblages? Maybe queer theory is too slutty when lending herself to cultural producers who like stardom too much to share the microphone, wages and authorship with a true queer subject… the social bottom can also speak, no?

 Anyways, tattoo trends I observe in Berlin, the site of so many international consumer profile studies, reflects for me the almost concurrent refusal among professionals and those aspiring to be such (academics and artists particularly) to produce and share meaning, and by sharing meaning I mean conceiving of its limitations in addition to a course of action thereafter. I’ve witnessed so many career, sabbatical-ed, noteworthy academics merely construct double binds… They take their funding, their coveted positioning and simply articulate the confines of a cell in which the internet has us power-bottoming information until we mess.

In my LA pool party, I was bottoming: feeling lucky to be included, the rather harsh dismissal of my sweetness felt deserved; my goat is never gotten because cruelty feels like a hug, often. Someone who loves your work but for all the wrong reasons… its simplicity, its weirdness, its nakednessuses love as an insult and I am antisocial enough to have felt these comments as praise. I grew up with absolutely no friends until I was 15 and by then it was too late, I would never acquire taste for love’s addictive assurances enough to endure without question its manipulations. Growing up completely alone, spared me the existential bullshit, meaning and self were never alien to me because these where the only media with which I worked in certainty. In a recent spell of antisocial exodus, I too got in bed with queer theory–a dexterous and ambitious whore with whom you can do anything for reasonable rates. Right? What is Halberstam other than a career TV junkie (the most grotesque of narcotics if you ask me)?

Queer theory is the pervert’s gun. It back fires, shoots blanks, the foot, and rarely the enemy. Covered in various fingerprints from many overzealous uneasy shooters (observe the recent cock fight over anti-normativity and its responses on bullybloggers), greasy with lube, sloppy seconds at best if not banged to complete indifference and boredom, it’s the perfect deepthroat trainer cause its limited phallic capacity doesn’t gag, which allows you to focus your work on the performance of fellating impotent ideas… believing they make a difference while the world of thought consumers wank to your Hollywood super soft core porn in which nothing really happens. Acting violated by a phallus poorly designed for such purpose, helps anyone achieve that phantom traumatic gaze… the means through which they then get to see the world with infallible insight… Alas, theory directed at anyone but the self is careless massacre. Premiere thinkers and their spawns should know better. Is holding the throne of ‘right’ really a no-rules rugby match, or is it a childish game of hot potato with nothing really at stake, or maybe I should say, it’s authors and those gifted with their mentorship are not the ones at risk, so really what’s with all the hurt feelings and emotional shit slinging? Does queer theory make right? Or is it an admission of guilt… all the irreparable wrong done in attempting to organize thought and difference?

What the fuck is my video doing with queer theory? Abstraction–what is an artist without abstraction? The whole video is a thought… I’m thinking on screen, you see me thinking on screen, and you see that thought isn’t conversational… it’s so often the end of dialogue, sometimes even years later we finally configure the means with which to respond within a value system rather than a hierarchy. Then there is the abstract body of the smartphone-distracted viewer, at another low-fi screening in another new collectively run arts space in fashion-conscious Neukölln where there are so many screenings… so many spaces and so many more artists hopelessly disconnected in taste, aim and identification of delusion. And this is the silent conversation I have with myself before you, a secret I let you in on, about belonging in art, making it, cliched black on black on black, politic-checking, jet-settlering or cautious gentrification… among all the other conversational matters for which we care albeit carelessly. There is the tattoo and its invitation to cruelty for meaning something so simple… instead of posing complexity… un-utterables versus the vehemently denied… a string of hurtles between you and me. Here is the part where I reason with myself the means I might judge my contemporaries in return… if that was what I wanted. There are those who never once doubted their ability to be artists, I am not one. Sharing thought isn’t abstract… it’s antisocial. There is no love to be had in queer theory, certainly not love of the self. Distrust is healthy when we acknowledge the violence of which we are capable. Waiting for the words to speak is smarter than parroting the matters of today in a muddle of social media while shrugging shoulders. It’s hard to know when thought it shareable, obviously, I’m not sure that it is.

PATRIMONY

Post Modernity is the passive aggressive character of Enlightenment… continually desiring a different contemporary moment, PoMo-sapiens label violence in the past. The Post- category is an addiction… as if colonialism ever stopped and its simply the after-moment and of course those identity modules have been declared spoken and known now no longer suitable critique or even simple observation…but there are other positions barely explored already in the category of falsely known. I don’t want to say temporality, backward or slow (having just seen Jack Halberstam’s zombie bandwagon show)… but the Post-perspectives do speak to me the deadness of academic speech models. Its tendency to put into the grave prematurely… ejaculate prematurely. The theorizing of human rights is nothing more than a nuanced discussion in the defense of class structure. ‘The Right Side of History’ syndrome has many refusing the possibility of being wrong. My response or concluding action is to embrace the ‘double bind’ of PoMo-Sapienism, admit that I doubt I’m able to write from the perspective of Right and then continue anyway within this form of academic argument acknowledging it as a mode of failure for me. The investment in ‘good’ schools purchases the ability to be right—the feeling of right. What I loved so much about This Bridge Called My Back and In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens was their exploding of right/wrong categories–something I consider rudimentary appraisal–in favor of sharing, repurposing, listening… These works didn’t fake as if they were authored by a singular force, instead they grew from the observation of nuance and a spiritual place beyond the bodies or brains that keep us from the things we should already know. These feminisms weren’t thesis driven arguments in my recollection, I encountered them as events. They weren’t essays to be lukewarm about… or worse ‘gotten’ right? The ‘it’ of these works isn’t here yet. It’s not done with us… they are the profound haunting that Avery Gordon unsettles this moment and every moment thereafter in her articulations of Ghostly Matters which are able to outlive these dark ages of post-positions that thinkers love to maintain thought with… When the now is finally known to be animated by unknowables the process of knowing or rather the futile struggle to reduce discomfort to the confines of being known re-present the Post- as a false knowing… as if violence and pain are knowledge producing… aren’t they overwhelmingly forgettable? Isn’t forgetting the most accessible means of survival? And the brutal limitations of forgetfulness… the designation of you as the unreliable narrator of your own experience on behalf of the project of healing. You must remember, recount and re-remember pain that never quite feels the same, because that’s the trick of healing: it’s simply pain felt differently over time. Nothing more. Healing is another life-building technique designed to blame victims for their failure to convert properly to a system that requires their subversion (probably definitely ripping off Lauren Berlant here). It’s these expectations that have theorists living in the afterlife… being post-everything… or rather as I see it, holding our breath waiting for uncomfortable conversations to finish… resolve themselves… and leave us in a mutual peace. My problem with post-politics is this manifest destiny they prescribe… feeling and knowledge as a place… that inevitably ‘it’ will pass and therefore we should live as though we survived its passing. This is about as much contextual introducing as I’m capable of right now… first we need to build the office. 

The following will consist of oversharing unfounded conclusions, and come to in waves of interest and then out of body alienation. Remember affirmation is not my goal so you are absolved of the responsibility of ‘loving’ or ‘liking’ anything. In the interest of working under the influence of bad theory I think I might like to transform this space into a psychoanalyst’s office. Let me assure you so much patient progress and trust is built with a fine interior design SO let us reimagine this space and build together the office in which my subconscious speaks to yours. Maybe my fantasy might be best supported by your collective labor to consider the non-human perspective. Please allow the potential disappointment of my subconscious to channel itself into the excitement of becoming an Eames chair or a Kosta Boda water pitcher… maybe there’s a Chihully blown glass sculpture ambivalently displayed to the side of the room standing in the place of poorly projected investment… awaiting some maintenance man to move it’s un-evolved aesthetics to the foyer given that its wild color pallet fails to allow the grays and blacks their gravity?

I am doing this because once I had to work as a Bruce Nauman piece in which I had to curl into a ball in the corner of the gallery and try to become a sphere… the show was appropriately titled The Quick and the Dead.. at the end of 2 hours I wasn’t a ball… nor was ‘I art,’ I did however transcend the realm of human. I definitely wasn’t human. I think this is an invitation for you to re-experience the role of listener as the sofa who listens or how the sofa listens… or leather chairs arranged around Eames table so as to position the tasteful owner of said table and chairs as the holder of truth and therefore extender of an invitation to the good life (Berlant again here). Who will be the setting in which I drink the Kool-Aid of subconscious discovery without first spending hours, weekly over years rehearsing? From which arrangement of interior design legitimacy will I find the diving board of mental nudity from which I jump into the cold baths of wake-the-fuck-up-life-isn’t-so-bad? Please be the furniture in the office of my life… the office in which I finally touch real… stop believing in ghosts… give up on god, and enter modernity…believing instead that connection is a violence worth perpetrating.

Here this is the office!

Confession: Patrimony was a poorly thought, completely impulsive title… and I’m not ready to submit fully to the power of its suggestion. Most of my titles include parentheses and colons so when I was asked to keep it short I wanted it to sound familiar to my oeuvre of blaming men for everything while also embracing the fact that in my work… any word will do cause titles are just the beginning not a marketing line for a book or a keyword for the JSTOR search engine. Patrimony is generally the possessions or estate left behind by daddy… I feel like I might also include myself, a zombie baby if you will, in the yard sale of life that my father left behind. Distant fathers make sluts and existential memoir writers of everyone I know, so I promise not to take this too far while laying all my weight on you my beloved sofa. I once after years of Christian identified therapists had the most amazing sex doctor give me a truly revelatory therapeutic breakthrough: ‘Not everyone is affected by their family.’ It was instant relief really and truly… most of my alienation stemmed from my failure to even want things to be different. I liked being omitted from the daily dramas of family… that their banality need not be a life-consuming conversation. There are always silent falling outs… someone always needs money… this shifts and all the while I am never interested in anyone’s side of the story. What if no one is to blame really and I become quite simply an object left behind. Not a pile of grief or longing… just simply a witness… a former implement or tool used to establish their sense of belonging together.

I apply the same sensibility to the queer appropriations of family. I could go on and on about Tim Dean’s Unlimited Intimacy issues… but I feel like I’ve already given him too much credit as a polemic and that is truly not what he is… let me just say that he borrows notorious misogynist Allen Ginsberg’s sentiment “A hard cock can’t lie” in order to prove the man power of porn as real, undeniable on screen desire when compared to vaginas which can be so deceptive in performing pleasure. (Yes, this is published theory, but my audience doesn’t punish itself the searching for the affect of justice.) Anyways the barrier free contact creates a viral baby and according to Dean, this alternative blood relation becomes a community structure… even if only lived in brief interludes orchestrated online. Again, this another community organizer here failing to see the incongruence of costs in participation: He writes as though San Francisco rents, sex club membership fees and health insurance are a given… with no concern for the very anti-radical displacement of capital by those eager to seroconvert in the name of belonging. And I believe this fault of believing money is a given is what allows blind neoliberal refuge in family… or queer strategies of reconstructing a unit that according to Firestone is the basis of capitalism. I finally got around to reading the entirety of Dialectic of Sex, it was just reprinted this year and so much of my thoughts here are indebted to her. Firestone writes the cultural evolution of children as property… I think that works for my conception of self as patrimony left behind. We can’t build a post-patrimony cause I think the act of being owned as object isn’t a position left behind so easily within the garage sale of life… I think it depends too much on the display… what else alongside you is also for sale, desired and purchased. I think that’s why I personally trip up selling myself to a job, or to a lover with galaxies of stars in his eyes… convincing friends to ‘hang in there cause I’m worth it’–what if I’m not? What if the rejections… denial and painful losses are the only things making a person like me tolerable? A friend recently recounted the story of an acquaintance who was overstepping before concluding: Maybe some people loved their children too much?

I really believe Firestone’s abolition of family brings a reparation for those of us without or made outside in the name of their togetherness because it is the measure with which a not-so-rugged individual might also survive a very late capitalism so eager to outlive its day (Aimé Césaire).

On paper, I look terrible for the position of love. Lovers love to say things like: ‘Well his family lives in NYC but we’re meeting them in the Hamptons…” or “Tenured” or “Diamonds.” The individual melts in these scenarios where convenience and luxury makes love feel stronger. No one yearns for an individual saddened by the realization that his own betterment… while entirely possible… will not be easily constructed without a series of violent oversights. Especially one smart enough not to trust herself with the ‘right’ usage of power. Professionalism loves to exclude the under qualified or those unconvincing in professional drag… and I want to be post-professional: so many people I worked alongside made me want to ask ‘Can you just admit that you’re faking it?’ Almost all labor is in the symbolic now… Why do you think I do academic drag? The industry around convincing people they’re specialized is booming. People need to hear: You’re special. I believe the total embrace of this symbolic labor moment (also forecasted by Firestone who calls for the abolition of schools) is to admit the self as little more than a free box at a garage sale discarded before its time of value, maybe only repurposed anachronistically at best.

I’ve watched ambitious friends become unlovable… on their path toward whatever neurotic fantasy renders them incapable of speaking of anything else but the soul crushing pressure of endurance reaching. This is where the love comes in… the love they have fills their gaps of sense…while leaving me recognizing their love as cheap performance. One unbearable task after the next filled in with love—the amnesia potion… their futures are in some post-category already… love drunk and unable to see that such is professional economy in this new era of a merely symbolic work force… the only person for this position is the one willing to reach infinitely.

I really embrace this left-behind-ness… certainly much more than a Vibrant Matter. I think of post-human and consideration of objects as perspectives are only fragile masks for classist bodies desiring a post-class dialogue… A veil made thin by their  approach toward persons–who being mere objects are only animated or stagnant by their paternal legacies. Isn’t the consideration of a coffee table and inherently bourgeois preoccupation? In theory doesn’t such a post-human, or consideration of the non-living perspective, simply forge a new unknowable as merely distraction from the ghost… the angry god… the curse… the gaps in this conversation… gaps in belonging… gaps in life and gaps in the ability to do so that cannot simply be filled by love. The coffee table is not the only thing in between us so let us not pretend that reverence for its dull perspective will get you to finally consider mine.

In public, presentation of the losing battle should be spoken of in terms of strategy for winning. That the loser wants to win, and he most certainly doesn’t go down without a fight. The narrative of the loser is one fraught with violence… his position irrupts—understandably or not—and the seemingly concrete trajectory of his character in combination with his situation brings out the unsightly last brawl of losing destiny. Every portion of his life in retrospect is revised in narration of ‘should have’ or ‘if he would’ve’ bringing out the folly of losing in us all… we always narrate ourselves outside of losing. We narrate only the action in terms of winning as realization of self… not that someone who forecasts his losing could actually be actualized—cause after all he still might winhe doesn’t know. Indeed whatever violence that makes the loser known to us should actually be a nuanced testament to how many losers fail to be known. The story of the quiet loser… arguably the self-aware loser… is lost without violence.

I think the mandate for losing gracefully—with a handshake or a smile and a wave, or most commonly, in silence with no one watching, is the final gag rule on losing without violence. What if a loser could tell a story we were capable of hearing… without the intervention of violence? A compilation of losing struggles told outside the conditional sentiments… the violence of belligerantly wishing that some other destiny was upon us. I think that’s what I loved so much about Moraga and Walker… both consumed the traditions of non-winners and imaged a very tangible and present legacy still among us now.

Do not be fooled the new symbolic work force is eager to plug in more losers who see money and think falsely accomplishment. We need a new language of the loser that recognizes—maybe not a language actually—maybe instead we need a means of recovering the loser from the pile of junk in the yard sale of life. Walker looked to the garden… but our world is considerably different now with smart people looking to the dump for answers. Let us now re-imagine ourselves as the loser leftovers from daddy’s garage sale already now in afterlife—discarded and now found by some smart person ready to consider the perspective of the discarded for the greater good… maybe they’re ready to hear us now.

LOVE IS ABUSE’S MOST DISCREET TOOL

On June 10, 2014 Mysti, neither drag queen nor artist, delivered a performance lecture entitled Master’s Tool: Is Unpaid Labor Feminist Practice? at Raumerweiterungshalle in Berlin. It was a meditation on amorphous hierarchies within community production models and a reparative invocation of Second Wave Feminism before a group of filmmakersand friends. Here is her post-performance reflection with Vika Kirchenbauer, artist and friend:

10_Animae_NUMBER_THREE_MYSTI_SAMUEL_HODGE_VIKA_KIRCHENBAUER

V: Dear Mysti, when I look at your lecture performance Master’s Tool, I consider your performance character less a drag queen but rather a persona to avoid self-performance. Would you be able to point out the differences from your perspective?

M: I keep thinking of a drag persona as being a life’s work… the narrative runs parallel with my own formations. It’s hard to locate in personas where labor stops and life begins. Within Master’s Tool, I was very much attempting to avoid responsibility… not to have my face represent this rather disruptive critique of standard approaches to filmmaking and art production in general. Because many who utilize this system of labor are close friends, I wanted a mask between the audience and myself. It was not personal; it was exploring organizations of labor together.

V: You speak mostly about labor conditions within the art world and queer community. Mysti is a worker, yet you also speak about your experience of labor conditions that aren’t Mysti’s…  How would you compare Mysti’s experience in ‘community practices’ in the art world with Eric’s experience of labor as a dishwasher?

M: The two inseparable… my labor as a dishwasher enables me to continue the exhibitionisms of Mysti in Berlin, right? Without my 7 euro/hour job I wouldn’t be here. Many artists I encounter often don’t need jobs to continue to produce work…

V: Or to create work for others…

M: EXACTLY! To create work for others. Beautiful nuance! I feel guilty asking people for favors. I often doubt my work as an artist is worthy of anyone’s labor. Believing time spent creating ‘art’ has inherent radical value when outside monetary concern… this is… THOUGHTLESS!

V: One of my favorite lines from the performance is: “I look here and imagine your bodies assembled as a vehicle that I’ll drive toward success.” How would you describe the power structures that underlie community projects?

M: There is only romance in capturing the utopian moment of all these different people coming together to create one work! One of my first paid art jobs was working for Sharon Hayes as a volunteer coordinator for Revolutionary Love: I Am Your Best Fantasy. She wanted 100 volunteers to read a love letter to an anonymous delegate inside the Republican National Convention. I have a special relationship to that piece because for almost everyone captured in the video, I can tell stories… alongside Sharon who doesn’t know them at all. Authorship is tricky, what kind of authorship is available in simply tasking volunteers with representation?

V: In a queer community whose filmmaking practice focuses largely on fiction film there is an insatiable need for extras. Extras supply the subject with a sense of authenticity; it allows the queer audience to recognize themselves in the representations of people ‘like them.’ We could say that it is a way of selling the community back to itself as a commodity, while at first glance things may seem as if hierarchies had been flattened, as if a triumph of visibility had been achieved… How can we actually work with people?

M: You talk circles around me! I love it! UM… back to ‘assembling bodies as a vehicle’ that is the empty gesture of community as art medium. If the critique is often: There weren’t any women… what about people of color?!?! then indeed, bodies stand in place of meaning. It’s a shallow meaning. For example, at the end of Wildness by Wu Tsang when suddenly everyone is having that picnic in MacArthur Park, and they are all sort of posing for the camera… very aware of it. She Male Snails by Ester Martin Bergsmark –which I love–also ends with a queer picnic scene. Both intensely emotional and important narratives simply become a queer picnic! What is it to stage/perform these vignettes? I don’t know what the picnic means… togetherness?

V: From my perspective artists are to a large extent professionals of desire production. I see the queer picnic as a good example of desire production. How would it look to you if we decided to disappoint this demand and no longer lure people into the illusion that there is anything to aspire to? I once went on a date and when the person said they had no big ambitions, I thought that was the wisest, sexiest thing I had heard in a while…

M: Haha! The first sort of tagline I wrote for my work as Mysti was something like: Creating desire isn’t about fulfillment but leaving room for longing. The queer picnic looks like what you’re supposed to feel when you’re a queer. I reflected on the queer picnic (or maybe family) and performing this structure with great conviction in Master’s Tool. I said: I’m not sure that the isolation ever really goes away. Many feel they must gift their labor to take part and belong and this is cause for alienation… when family, again, becomes a series of disappointments.

Behind my performance I showed American Gash, trying to illustrate how Ripsy and I made work together… that art doesn’t have to be “career” it can simply be a reflection on life. Maybe my political message didn’t have access to the images created together. Maybe the political cheapens the personal.

V: What we are talking about also connects to not just a privilege but actually now a demand to build a career on one’s passions.. to do what you love. Is the queer community project an inspiring space for neoliberal work restructuring when we think of ways to convince people to exploit themselves in the name of love and higher goals?

M: I really feel seen by you! I wrote a conclusion paragraph AT THE END… in a way I never write, to make clear that this mandate for loving your work is an interruption to what we do as a community of lovers. Love is abuse’s most discreet tool. My issue with self-identified queer or community art: it’s just a marketing line. I don’t believe there is being queer. Queer is how it perverts or disintegrates. Jose Munoz said queer isn’t even here yet. When people use political art to create a career this is the only goal… not community.

V: Criticality as a trademark is a widespread strategy in the art world anyways…

M: This is a very unimaginative present, mandating love for what you do… It is a luxury to spend your life’s work creating a job that you love… not working out of necessity. There is fraudulent innocence in assuming gifted time and labor come from love. This abusive rhetoric enables someone to make a name for themselves via this performance of assembling people. I think that’s what the queer picnic is… there’s the person with the camera, who gets the name to acquire future funding and then the unnamed bodies merely assembled, standing in for what is/was a community and elusive if not vague meaning. What is it to stand on those bodies and insist togetherness, especially considering how often these projects produce violent alienation among friends, paid producers and unpaid participants alike?

A film of the performance Master’s Tool: Is Unpaid Labour Feminist Practice? along with a transcript can be found at http://www.fuckmewhileimgorgeous.blogspot.com

Vika Kirchenbauer is an artist and writer currently working and residing in Berlin. “Infrared Dreams in Times of Transparency: The Love Life of Drones and Other Western Cyborgs”, her latest essay, is available at http://married-print.com.