The following text was written as a contribution for the catalogue accompanying the all gay show " From the Corner of the Eye " staged alongside the " Gay Games " at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 1998
21, Place Vendôme, 1.5.1998
“ Before the flowers of friendship died, friendship died. “ 1
There are moments so discouraging that the best thing to do for keeping in touch with your raison d’être is to seek strictly illusionary space. When I received the “ Visitors Brochure “ of the GG – I refuse to spell it in full – such a moment had irrevocably arrived.
It is beyond any understanding why people whose consciousness should be sharpened through a century of struggle against institutionalized social violence, ostracism and silencing should be nowadays unrivalled in their licentious imperialism. We are told that Amsterdam is the “ gay way “ to Euro – oops ! – centrism, lined with the “ gracious and stately homes “ of the merchants of “ the Golden Age “, breeder of “ such famous painters as Rembrandt “ – just forget about the havocs of cultural supremacy, it’s too unfriendly to be mentioned. Homosexuality – we are made to believe – is just “ an alternative lifestyle “ that Amsterdam has no problem to DEAL WITH. Doubtlessly.
Thriving Gay Business may be pink. But as far as these pages are concerned, the much pinker anger of a considerable number of queers who are sick of “ the twisted patriotism based on sexual persuasion “ 2serving as an excuse for this type of brainwash-hugging attitude – if it is to be called an attitude at all – shall not go unacknowledged.
Sarah Vaughans “ April in Paris “ came to my rescue, appeasingly sprinkling my aesthetics which had been sent into a dehydrated and convulsive state by this unforseen toxic. I concluded that if all the “Friends “ of the world are either stacked up in the “ Village of Friendship “ or trampling down the tender little flowers and less visible creatures in their blind participation-mania, LOVERS should be instead found in Paris, dreamily walking, not marathoning along the quais and through the parks. Slow motion and softness of body and mind have always given such a pensive passepartout to romance and sex !
Along with me there came no bottle of Be What ?, to be sure, but a flasque of Vetiver – you know how much Bébé Bérard ( fig II ) believed in its aphrodisiac potentials ! – and “ Princess “, my agavegreen, portable typewriter ( fig III ). Were we conceived at the same time ?, I wonder, and use this catholic abstraction in order to distance myself as far as possible from genetics.
In the wirstschaftswunderish 50ies no husband was allowed to witness the painful and traumatizing event commonly known as BIRTH , a term full of the intimidating epics of convex and concave (figIV) and dynastic compulsion. The infuriated newborns got immediately taken away from their mothers which at least heightened the chance of these desperate lookalikes being exchanged by mistake. (figV)
If those times are memorable for their deliberate failure to get rid of fascists once and forever, they are as well supposed to be the postgenocidal, but nevertheless gloomy era preceding the Lib, when every gay kid had just nothing to identify with and presumably felt completely lost – all alone in the woods.
But not only did “ liberation “ turn out to be quite unartistic and its dogma of “ coming out “ not very welcoming for people who did not belong to a certain middleclass ; I was anything but alone and can tell you that even enlightened parental gratification at the incident of a gay progeny means nothing when compared to the enchanted bonds offered by a “ Queer Tutelage “.
My queer tutor’s name was uncle Hermann, earnestly, and without him I could neither have experienced the catastrophe of being forced to surrender to the humiliating culture of the open secret ( Bruce, stop whining about the splendours of the closet ! ) nor would I have any non-commodified notion of the elegance, the playfulness, I’insouciance and the lyricism of a gay presence not yet straight-jacketed by the specific and unavoidable demands of political visibility. (fig VI) In an essay on “ The Wings Of The Dove “ by Henry James ( fig VII ) , Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick writes : “ I have focused on queer “ parents “ rather than queer “ children “ because I see an urgency in understanding queer people as not only what the wolrd makes but what makes the world ; it is time for genetic narratives like psychoanalysis ( and, of course, all narratives are genetic narratives ) to stop representing the idiot perseveration of the assaultive and sinister question, Where do homosexuals come from. … But, of course, the intense intellectual appeal of psychoanalysis is that as the modular science of the phallus, complete with a transformational grammar for translating every organ, every behaviour, every role and desire into a calculus of phallic presence or absence, it not only facilitates but virtually compels an irreducible theoratical elegance in its argumantative structure. I feel painfully, on the other hand, how much economy of argument is lost in the attempt to undo the mutual transparency from organ through identity – by disarticulating from one another the histories of identity, the magnetic contingencies of organ. … “ One of the motives of her project is “ … to denaturalize any presumptive understanding of the relation of “ hetero” to “ homo “ as modern sexual identities - the presumption, for instance, of their symmetry, their mutual impermeability, or even of their both functioning as “ sexual identities “ in the same sense ; the presumption, as well, that “ hetero “ and “ homo “, even with the possible addition of “ bi “, do efficiently and additively divide up the universe of sexual orientation.” 3
I’m always suspicious when queer artists get patronized as being a part of the highly contentious concept of “ identity politics “ by sexually ( not to mention the rest ) hegemonic people with their “identity “ so cemented that it becomes even transcendent, only because those very artists might happen to be critical about it.
On the other hand, there can be no queer politics without the historical burden of “ identity “. To avoid the notion that I ‘m striving for the all -too-available modern/postmodern ideas of personalities in flux, of marketable versatility and fragmentation, I hasten to say that if “ coming out “ today means anything at all, it means both to object to the bothersome concepts of the free will and the real inner self and to resist the militarism of a “ shared universal identity “ in a GG-style nature -park with the insipid looks of a former wildflower garden reduced to a level playing-field. While the “ JUST BE ! “ – ( homo )sexuality is narrowing down “ identity “ to the merely well-to-do genital, speaking AS A HOMOSEXUAL has not stopped to be an important slogan ( and I truly adore you Bruce for doing this incessantly anyway ).
The Bengal-born postcolonical amazone Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak puts it this way : “ The question of ‘ speaking as ‘ involves a distancing from oneself. The moment I have to think of the ways in which I will speak as an Indian, or as a feminist, the ways in which I will speak as a woman, what I am doing is trying to generalise myself, make myself a representative, trying to distance myself from some kind of inchoate speaking as such. There are many subject positions which one must inhabit; one is not just one thing. That is when a political consciousness comes in. So that in fact, for the person who does the ‘ speaking as ‘ something, it is a problem of distancing from one’s self, whatever that self might be. But when the cardcarrying listeners, the hegemonic people, the dominant people, talk about listening to someone ‘ speaking as ‘ something or the other, I think thereone encounters a problem. When they want to hear an Indian speaking as an Indian, a Third World woman speaking as a Third World woman, they cover over the fact of the ignorance that they are allowed to possess, into a kind of homogenization. “ 4
If within the limitless realm of sexuality, this Homo-Genization means the rigorous power-structure and definitional hegemony of the homo/hetero calculus, the chiselled, hyper-refined and all-pervading knowlegde about the intricate repertoire of “ homoerotic display “ -and its sanctified disclaiming – has actually done little to grant you the relative peace of invisibility. In this sense “ the closet “ has been a utilitarian distortion of the so much less adaptable, but so realistic “ glass closet “.
Heroic, manly models such as “ nation “, “ freedom “, “ citizenship “ etc, highly suspicious models indeed, depend precisely on a paranoid connoisseurship of what can -and cannot- go on in between men. In her essay on the democratic post-WW II nation and its aliens, Cindy Patton writes:
“ Identity – the common referent of civil-rights and human-rights rhetoric – is the Rosemary’s Baby of contemporary liberal pluralism. Born in a response to communism and installed at the heart of the identity politics it underwrites, identification has a deep sympathy with a particular kind of national identity that preaches melodramatic empathy in place of a potentially erotic comrade-love. With the empathetic citizen having absorbed much of what once marked suspect maculinities, the homosexual could figure empathy gone awry. It was not so much feminization that was the homosexual’s crime, as the failure to make the turn from the strongest masculine identification of soldier into an emphaty that served the nation. Queerness is the collapse of political love into something else, a subtrerranean place in which goo produces not transformation but fusion. Queerness is, in this instance, beyond, even, againstidentity. An antiqueer inscription of anticommunism lies at the heart of the political constellation that has produced contemporary gay politics.
Thank you Cindy Patton, this is a brilliant explanation for my specific unease with “ liberation “, as represented by the Gay Games.
And let me close with some lines from Caroline Loeb’s hymn to indoor-couture and pleasure “ C’est La Ouate “ :
Par essence elle est paresseuse
Est-ce vraiment la paresse
Ou trop de quoi ou qu’est-ce ?
Apparement, elle est heureuse
C’est la plus heureuse
De toutes les matières
C’est la ouate qu’elle préfère
Passive, elle est pensive
En négligé de soie
1. Gertrude Stein
2. Bruce La Bruce, " The Reluctant Pornographer ", Gutter Press, 1997
3. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwic, " Tendencies ", Duke University Press, 1993
4. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, " The Post-Colonial Critic " , ed. Sarah Harasym, Routledge, 1990
5. Cindy Patton, “ To Die For “, in “ Novel Gazing “, ed. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Duke University Press, 1997
The following text was written for a grant application in Berlin, 1995. The grant would allow me to finance the work " Room For The Student with a Sense for Beautiful Things ". This work was going to be a part of a group show at Wiensowski & Harbord, Berlin, including Janet Burchill / Jennifer McCamley, Lukas Duwenhögger / Ull Hohn, Martine Maffetti / Antje Majewski. We were a loosely knit group of friends ( the pairings represent the closer connections ) and had been given free reign to organize the show as we saw fit.
The show we created was magnificent but did not attract any attention. Anyhow, my application was successful and the " Room For ... " was built. But since our high-strung relations prevented us from agreeing on a title for the show, the task of creating an invitation card having been left to me, I came up with the following design in the end, to everyones liking :
Invitation, front and back
Invitation, front and back
Zu Raum 2 : Lukas Duwenhögger und Ull Hohn
L.D’s Arbeit, ein Zimmer im Zimmer, bezieht sich auf einen Vorschlag H.E. Lindner’s von 1919, den “ Junggesellen mit Sensibilität für schöne Dinge “ in seinem Wunsch, seinen begrenzten Raum elegant zu unterteilen, entgegenzukommen. Es handelt sich dabei um ein mobiles System miteinander verbundener Träger und Vorhänge, das für die Ausstellung 1 : 1 nachgebaut wird.
Die dreidimensionale Struktur besteht aus einem Innenraum und einer textilen Aussenfläche, wenn die Vorhänge geschlossen sind.
“ In der westlichen Architektur hat es die humanistische Annahme gegeben, es sei erstrebenswert, zwischen Inneraum und Fassade einen moralischen Bezug herzustellen, in dem das Äussere gewisse Enthüllungen in Bezug auf das Innere macht, die auch bestätigt werden sollen.
“ Die ‘ehrliche ‘ Fassade spricht über die Aktivitäten, die sie verbirgt. Aber mathematisch wird die innere Ausdehnung in Kubikmetern, während die der Schale in Quadradmetern gemessen wird. Ab einer gewissen Grössenordnung hat also immer weniger Oberfläche immer mehr Aktivität zu repräsentieren.
“ Auf diese Weise erspart der Monolith der Aussenwelt die Qualen der ununterbrochenen Veränderung, die in seinem Inneren toben. Die Fassade verbirkt das alltägliche Leben. “ ( Rem Koolhaas : Delirious New York )
Die Fassade ist also eine Maske, Innen und Aussen ein Doppelleben. Diese Dinge haben mit dem Junggesellen eine ganze Reihe von Berührungspunkten.
In den ersten 20 Jahren dieses Jahrhunderts--die Zeit der Entwicklung des Wolkenkratzers bzw Automonuments-übersteigt die Zahl der männlichen Wanderarbeiter, Seeleute und Immigranten die der weiblichen um das ca Achtfache. Von dieser Masse der Männer sind zeitweise bis zu 90 % Junggesellen. So kommt es zu Ausdrücken wie der “ Junggesellenkultur “ oder der “ Stadt der Junggesellen “. Diese homosoziale Gesellschaft mit ihrem oszillierenden Verhältnis zur Homosexualität gehört genau wie der bürgerliche Euphemismus des “ Sensiblen “ oder die Taktiken der Maske und des Doppellebens einer Epoche an, die ab 1969 von der Gay Lib—der sich selbst als solche postulierenden Schwulen BEWEGUNG –als historisch redundant abgetan wurde.
Dazu George Chauncey “ Die Geschichte schwulen Widerstands darf aus heutiger Sicht nicht bei formellen politischen Organisierungen halt machen, um Formen des alltäglichen Widerstands nicht auszuschliessen, die es ermöglichten, in einer feindlich eingestellten Gesellschaft Raum für sich zu beanspruchen. In Anbetracht der effektiven Ahndung jeder Form schwuler Sozialisierung und der Konsequenzen, mit denen man bei einer Enthüllung seiner Homosexualität zu rechnen hatte, haben SOWOHL die Bereitschaft Einiger, sich offen schwul darzustellen, ALS AUCH die Fähigkeit Anderer ein schwules soziales Netz gleichzeitig zu schaffen und zu verbergen, als Formen des Widerstands zu gelten. Die Taktik des Verbergens ( der Maske ) hat antischwule Politik zwar nicht so wie die Bewegung direkt herausgefordert, aber im Angesicht dieser Politik hat sie vielen Schwulen nicht nur das reine Überleben ermöglicht, sondern auch die Alternative, sich zu entwickeln und ein selbstbewusstes, erfülltes Leben zu führen.
Die Übernahme der Forderung nach der “ ehrlichen “ Fassade mit ihrer impliziten Moral durch die Bewegung gipfelte im bis heute gültigen Dogma des “ coming out “. Dieser schon lange vorher existierende Begriff fordert seither jedem Homosexuellen unhinterfragt den Akt furchtloser ( Selbst ) Enthüllung ab.
In der seit 1985 bestehenden Harvey Milk-School, ein alternatives Kolleg für lesbische und schwule kinder in NewYork wird indessen jede individuelle Möglichkeit eines “ Coming Out “ geprüft und im Falle einer sich abzeichnenden Gefährdung der kinder für nicht ratsam erklärt. Statt ein Dogma zu praktizieren stellt man es in Frage.
Ull Hohn, der als Maler den Prozess künslerischer Profilierung und Professionalisierung als ununterbrochenes Ausprobieren verschiedener Masken untersucht, und dabei die Frage der Identität auf jeder Ebene angreift, wird drei “ akamische “ Zeichnungen an der Wand des Raumes anbringen und eine “ Jugend “ Zeichnung in einem Stehrahmen auf dem Beistelltisch des mobilen Junggesellenzimers plazieren.
Diese Zusammenarbeit stellt eine Kritik an der Ideologie der “ ehrlichen “ Fassade dar.
The late Ull Hohn in his studio, China Town NY, 1990
Pencil drawing on paper, 29.5 x 21 cm, 1995, private collection
" The Room For ... ", as shown in "Prinzenbad " ,Hamburg, 2004
" The Room For ... ", as shown in " Undoolay ", Artist's Space NY, 2016
"The Room For ...", as shown originally at Wiensowski & Harbord, 1995, Berlin, in the background Janet Burchill / Jennifer McCamley
"The Room For ...", as shown in Raven Row, alongside Heinrich Heine Allee project presentation, 2016, London
Detail of "The Room For ...", when first shown, with Roger Chauncey's "Gay New York", on the bed
Detail of "The Room For ...", when shown in Malmö, with the following flyer, wrapped in a specially designed paper
When in 1997, in the Konstmuseet Malmö's F-room, the hard-won achievement of the curator Göran Christensen, who invited me to do the show, I decided on two works, " Probleema " and " The Room For ... ". Similiarly to the Netherlands, the Swedish were convinced that everything having to do with gayness had been once and forever resolved. Instead, a contemporary battle was raging as to the rights of gay people to adopt children. This important controversy tentatively was kept out of my view, albeit without success. I then created this fly-leaf, using collage and fotocopy, headed by the slogan " Right For Homosexual Men And Women To Adopt Children Now ! ". This was placed on the small table next to the bed, wrapped in a special paper, bearing the logo "Go Gay-this easy "C(S)hivers Way", which I had already printed for the " Innuendo " show. It is of equal importance to note, that the range of characters cast for the illustration as possible future parents, mostly chosen from Vito Russo's " The Celluloid Closet ", was an attack on the mostly conservative gays who campaigned for the right to adopt, but only for those wealthy and " responsible " enough to guarantee their prospective kids an Ivy League education, as opposed to the gay scum who squander their dough on having a good time.
Web sitesi trafiğini analiz etmek ve web sitesi deneyiminizi optimize etmek amacıyla çerezler kullanıyoruz. Çerez kullanımımızı kabul ettiğinizde, verileriniz tüm diğer kullanıcı verileriyle birlikte derlenir.