a cycle of three exhibitions exploring queer
artistic practices in 2020 and 2021
at Maison Populaire, Montreuil (FR)
Many contemporary authors describe in great detail the state of systemic crisis we are facing (environmental, migratory, social, and political crises), which Mark Fisher – the late British cultural critic – measured by the yardstick of a sensation: that of a gradual cancellation of the future. A progressive narrowing of our collective horizon, the dwindling of our ability to consider and debate alternatives to late capitalism, the present and its grave ineluctability can now only announce its own repetition, passively identical, leaving us with the expectation of inexorable disasters – like the White Walkers from Game of Thrones.
Slavoj Žižek, in a 2008 interview with Eric Aeschimann entitled “We will have to become utopians again”, announced: “Look at science fiction: it is obviously easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” This sentence, whose authorship is disputed, now famous in popular culture and critical theory, has often been mobilized in a truncated form: to the detriment of Žižek’s link to science fiction. However, the slow cancellation of the future has constantly challenged the political and utopian potential that the countless contributors of this genre, long considered minor, have tirelessly sought to describe. It should perhaps be recalled here that the many different forms of literature grouped under the name “science fiction” cannot be simply subsumed under the spectacular interpretation that Hollywood studios have more or less successfully exploited.
Rather than insisting on the contemporary inability to tell disruptive stories, many feminist and queer voices, lulled by the songs of speculative fiction, are intoning the complicated enunciation of new virtualities. In 2009, American researcher José Esteban Muños called for utopian futurities, brought about through the artistic work and alternative, communitarian sociabilities of queer relationalities. By focusing on the way queer artists create their genealogies while proposing, through their works, concrete practices of otherness as well as affirmative platforms, he insists on the fact that not only do these ways of inhabiting the world anticipate a future, but they also make it possible.
In Fabrizio Terranova’s documentary Story Telling for Earthly Survival, Donna Haraway, herself a science-fiction lover, invites us to “make kin” by forging tangible links of affiliation with others and with the world, in order to consider an alternative future. By describing the fictional period of Chthulucene, she enjoins humanity to use our imagination to come up with a hybrid fate through cohabitation, for the species and the planet, which will make a transformative difference.
Elective, rather than biologically or socially inscribed, the relational and genealogical practices of queer disidentification and reidentification work on a refusal to repeat the normative injunctions imposed on them. This ambition of opening up futurities that do not simply arise out of the reproduction of the present reveals a strategic programme that is represented within various fields: from the artistic to activism, from the intimate to political affirmations.
By investing the work of a young generation of artists, poets, editors, and queer theorists, I aim to show that these are all pragmatic propositions of alterity – which are also realistic – and programmes of action and resistance intended to inform our relationships with the world. And they do so by remaining firmly rooted in what Manuel Selgade calls the selective tradition of the contemporary field of artistic practices: that is, by way of the creation and dissemination of critical content that transforms the data of the present. More specifically, I choose to linger on queer and intersectional artistic enterprises that do not simply highlight the necessary acceptance of differences in sexual orientations and gender identities, but also how queer thought and practice can contribute to the organisation of a post-capitalist, environmental, and anti-racist future.
This project is made possible thanks to the curatorial residency of Maison populaire, with the support of Ministère de la Culture - DRAC Île-de-France, Conseil régional d’Île-de-France, Conseil départemental de la Seine-Saint-Denis, Ville de Montreuil, CNC - Dicréam and Fluxus Art Projects.