The elastic queer vanguard
Through watching, being, performing, and experiencing, we learn how to express our identity in ways that represent how we think of ourselves. We are, as humans, a collection of impressions left on us by the world at large. When we create a collage of what makes us ourselves, the scribbles of transposing what others have drawn, we find the edges of these concepts begin to blur and melt together. The whole mass of our identity becomes malleable. When pressed against others—other people, other ideas, other bodies—the ink of them remains. We become a constantly sticky site of negotiation.
The idea that queer cinema is itself a product of appropriation echoes the sense of being a shadow of something more solid, more established. Makers within this area of moving image work take techniques established in other genres and apply it to their own ideas. Footage is lifted from one work and reformed into an opposing, queered narrative, taking something normative and espousing it with a more storied, uncanny identity. Time exists differently in this universe: it is at the mercy of the maker’s memory and impulses. Rather than being constrained by linear rules, time hopscotches around, it is anachronistic, it resembles the constant passage between outward presentation and internal truth. The identity becomes timed in multiple – at once a presentation of now and a recall of memories that were. In this world the focus becomes the self, and how to form an identity that truly represents who is making it.
As a queer filmmaker myself I’ve tried to approach these issues in my own way, and am constantly watching work by others to see how they are reconciling the world with themselves. The default for mainstream media is to exclude diverse identities, and those who identify as queer are never able to find themselves amongst the parade of products, faces and actions of the masses. We all know what it is to be apart from this, to stew over the jealousy of belonging that we consciously try to suppress. Instead, our world is like an assembly of (sometimes discounted) characteristics, memories, and performativities picked over like one would at a garage sale. As a result, we come to present ourselves as a collage, as a performance of an idea, as a concept. Sometimes this is benign, a cardboard cutout acting as a stand-in. Conversely, though, sometimes we can’t separate the pain that it brings. What is seen is a bruise, a memory made visible.
The denial of the mainstream in the formal approach of queer artists’ film and video is the acknowledgement of being out—outed, outside, outsmarted, outlandish, outlawed. This is reflected in the variety of outward gazes that compose the critical eye of this genre. Whether hiding, acting, screaming, looking, or remembering, queer artists occupy a position of the over-informed consumer, sifting through biased mainstream presentations in order to arrive at something remotely reflective of one’s reality. This way we can take what we see— however elastic or gooey—and use it to make who we are, as armour for navigating a world that pushes back, as tools for resisting.
Co-curated by Amber Christensen, Christine Lucy Latimer, Daniel McIntyre, and Genne Speers for Pleasure Dome in collaboration with Inside Out, Projection by Clint Enns
Metube2 – August Sings Carmina Burana Daniel Moshel (2015, video, 6 min., Austria)
Oui Mes Noms Kimura Byol & Nathalie Lemoine (2015, video, 2 min., Canada)
SEWenir Marie Dauverné (2014, video, 4 min., silent Canada)
CHRISTEENE – “Big Shot” PJ Raval (2014, video, 4 min., USA)
A Spot on the Sun Kim Kielhofner (2014, video, 13 min., Canada/UK)
Older Woman Gentlemanly Dating with a Lesbian Ending Supercut Dayna McLeod (2015, video, 1 min., Canada)
Sal Mineo’s Locker Chance Taylor (2015, video, 9 min., Canada)
Flowers & Bottoms Christos Massalas (2016, video, 6 min., Greece)
untitled (eleven years) Scott Miller Berry (2015, Super 8 on video, 6 min., Canada)
Truthful Innards Margaret Polzine (2015, video, 4 min. USA) Fairyland Iris Moore (2014, video, 5 min., Canada)
When We Are Old(er) Men Marc Adelman (2015, video, 3 min., USA/ Germany)
A Woman Returns from a Journey Ruth Novaczek (2015, video, 11 min., UK)
Total running time 74 minutes