Revis(ualis)ing Intersectionality: Series of Conversations. Pt. 1 – 4
(text by Dr. Tiara Roxanne)
The first conversation, trans*, took place in September and was influenced by the words of Jack Halberstam, who reminds us that “Trans* can be a name for expansive forms of difference, haptic relations of knowing, uncertain modes of being, and the disaggregation of identity politics predicated upon the separating out of many kinds of experience that actually blend together, intersect and mix.” For this discussion, we held a screening of the film “Prototypes” by Doireann O’Malley, who lives and works in Berlin. Doireann’s work has been featured in multiple venues including but not limited to Hugh Lane Gallery, Stadium Gallery, Dublin City Gallery, Triskel Arts Center, among many others. Doireann was also the recipient of the prestigious Berlin Art Prize in 2018.
For the second conversation, we investigated sameness. Here, we were thinking about how sameness attempts to disentangle the narrative of difference. A film screening of Stephanie Comilang’s “Come to Me Paradise” held the space and had us thinking about how we visualize various forms of sameness and togetherness in conjunction with intersectionality. Stephanie Comilang is an artist and filmmaker living between Toronto and Berlin. Her documentary-based works create narratives that look at mobility, capital and labor on a global scale. Her work has been shown in the major cities of Bangkok, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, New York City, Toronto and Berlin, among others.
The third conversation, perception, asked us to think more experientially. Perception interrogates how visual information guides our actions in interacting with others as well as the environment. A conversation led by Ashkan Sepahvand evolved exploratively. Ashkan’s experiential talk highlighted that perception is a relation, where agency corroborates beyond the visual. It is not alien to itself. And Nine Yamamoto-Masson produced live illustrations throughout the conversation. She encountered the space by bearing a motion of the visual. The discourse between the two became a perceptual echo. Ashkan Sepahvand is a writer and artistic researcher from Berlin. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate in Fine Arts at the Ruskin School of Art and St. John's College, University of Oxford. Nine Yamamoto-Masson is a French-Japanese artist, theorist, researcher, curator, translator, community organizer and PhD candidate at ASCA (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam). She is now an artist in residence at Flux Factory in New York City.
In the fourth and final conversation we probed intimacy as an unfolding form of oppression and/or togetherness with the increased inclusion of digital technologies in our daily experiences which began to form an other kind of narrative. Where one might remember the words of Lauren Berlant, “I didn’t think it would turn out this way is the secret epitaph of intimacy. To intimate is to communicate with the sparest of signs and gestures, and at its root, intimacy has the quality of eloquence and brevity. But intimacy also involves an aspiration for a narrative about something shared, a story about both oneself and others that will turn out in a particular way.” Let’s think about intimacy as asign or gesture of intersectionality, a relation between body and digitality, between digital bodies and digitality and so forth. Digital technologies promote hypervisuality of our bodies which shapes our relations, our intimacies. Where we might mutually recognize a shared togetherness within the digital sphere, we might also discover a feeling of alienation, or even seduction. We are intimate with algorithms themselves too: with targeted ads, bots, or Alexa. We are the seductive objects that attract and train these algorithms.
Some questions we asked: How does the growing implementation of digital technologies in our daily lives, and the inescapability therein, shape our encounter(s) with intimacy? How does virtual or digital intimacy fabricate how the body, our bodies, are displayed visually?
Shaka McGlotten is Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology at Purchase College-SUNY. They use anthropology and art, together with black study and queer theory, to consider new media technologies. They are the author of Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality (SUNY Press, 2013) and the coeditor of Black Genders and Sexualities (with Dana-ain Davis; Palgrave, 2012) and Zombie Sexuality (with Steve Jones; McFarland, 2014). Their book Dragging: In the Drag of a QueerLife is forthcoming from Routledge. Their work has been supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Akademie Schloss Solitude, and the Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation. firstname.lastname@example.org
Zander Porter is a US-American, Germany-based artist working in the space between liveness and onlineness, proposing new modes of social relation via complications of selfhood, communication, and (dis)embodiment. Zander graduated with high honors from Wesleyan University with a degree in Art Studio and concentrations in Performance Studies, Computer Science, and Queer Theory. Zander works individually as well as part of XenoEntities Network (XEN), a platform for discussion and experimentation focusing on intersections of queer, feminist, and gender studies with digital technologies. Zander has presented work and collective projects at SPACE10 (Copenhagen), Fierce Festival (Birmingham), Fuchsbau Festival (Hanover), Incarnata Social Club (New York City), TIFA (Pune), DFBRL8R (Chicago), Kampnagel (Hamburg), National Film & Sound Archive of Australia (Canberra), Human Resources (Los Angeles), Sophiensæle (Berlin), among others.
James Batchelor is a dancer and choreographer from Australia, now based in Berlin. His work is known for its visual clarity, architectural sensitivity to space and rhythmic playfulness. Movement is hypnotically focused and detailed drawing audiences into a contemplative and imaginative realm. James studied a Bachelor of Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts and has presented his work in contexts such as Centre Pompidou (Paris/Málaga), Tramway (Glasgow), Dance Massive (Melbourne), and Dansens Hus (Oslo), among others. Recently at Berlin’s Tanz im August, James presented his work Deepspace, a piece which grew from his experience on a two-month mapping expedition to sub-Antarctic islands led by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies in Australia.