Deviancy and its Discontents
December 15, 2008
This is again responding to a bit on Michael’s blog that raises the issue of whether the gay community is receptive to “deviant” people, but this touches on queer abstraction so here we go.
The primary problem facing the gay community right now isn’t gay marriage or other equal rights; it’s the complete collapse of homosexuality into heteronormativity. By which I mean that rather than being accepting of deviancy, these days, white, upper-class gay men are circling the wagons in terms of defining what it is and means to be gay in the contemporary US. Being gay in America is slowly turning into belonging to a country club: you have to have a certain pedigree, which means you have to know the right people and conduct yourself in the “right” way. I’m naturally disinclined to have people tell me how to act and what to think, so you can see how this rankles.
So it’s important now more than ever to emphasize QUEER over gay or lesbian. Hence queer abstraction and not just abstract art made by artists who happen to be gay; there’s plenty of that and most of it is snoresville. The root question is how do deviancy (sexual and otherwise) and representation (absent or present) interact, and how might they productively interact? What can one say about the other that traditional methods don’t allow for? You could easily, in 2008, call abstraction a traditional method in the noun sense of the word; it has become as toothless as the gay and lesbian “community.”
More and more, I’m thinking that in order to keep this cluster of ideas afloat, it’s key to think of both queering and abstraction as activities, not states. It’s not a question at arriving at some sort of finished work of abstract art that somehow references queerness; maybe there’s nothing queer (or abstract) about the end results at all.
A nonexistent image to shore all this up would be a lifesize aluminum print of Mapplethorpe’s bullwhip photo with a hole where his face is so you could stand behind it and put your face into the hole (heh) and get photographed as a deviant.
Also, I’ll be in LA in two weeks and I need to rent a car. Anybody have any money? Or want to drive me around? 🙂 Kidding. Sort of.