.in no particular order
fuck, how to i make it nonlinear on cargocollective?????
.ok i turned this one nice
.wait, how do i
..ok, um let me ask quick
.ok, I have to move on, I this is taking too much time, no more bros on forums please
Remember when I/you saw LJ Roberts lecture back in ‘09 or whenever? Well, they talked about the material of yarn and the act of knitting and made the argument that knitting is an inherently queer act; they explained that yarn in its production and ideal form is an unbroken straight line (this is true for thread as well, and the terms yarn and thread will be used interchangeably because of this shared quality), though they went on to explain that yarn only comes into its meaning by being bent, looped, and twisted around itself. Only by queering the yarn do you get to rock a rad sweater. This is a very narrow metaphor but it resonated with me/you, I/you have carried it with me/you for a long time, and have kept an eye out for tensions between a straight thread and a twisted, looping, knotted, kinky, queer network. (I love this both for the metaphor and the sheer materiality of it)
-Ok sure, thread is a loaded material in this metaphor, but Roberts’s pink fence made with their pink plastic Barbie knitting machine is a far cry from where I/you went with it.
Yeah, there is no logical reason for that. I/you were studying the history of queer representation in cinema and something just kept whispering in the back of my/your mind “draw this stuff with thread” so I/you did. Later on I/you would draw similarities between the drawings and old b/w film-stills, the photo negative, how thinly developed queer characters are written, the paradoxical ephemera and permanence of cinema, blah blah blah, right?
-right. So thread and queer representation might have just been a coincidence?
Dood, buddy, pal, self, looking too hard at some of this is a one way ticket to paralyzing anxiety. Back off, lol.
-Lulz sry. Ok, but the books you/i were reading were about mainstream cinema, B-movies & exploitation flicks at the lowest. Why porn, where did that impulse come from?
It wasn’t immediately obvious that I/you would be drawing porn. Vito Russo’s Celuloid Closet so solidly analyzed the way queer figures were coded into images, it really landed on me/you. I/you couldn’t stop thinking about how much of the queer afffectation was invented for the cinematic image, and often at the service of a joke, and more often at the expense of the queer’s dignity.
-that book is so good
I/you know, right?!
-Russo writes about Hollywood intentionally inventing visibly queer affects and gestures that are the origins of stereotypes that still do damage today, but he also writes about queers working in Hollywood who quietly embed queer wink wink nudge nudge into cinema, and trade in a subtext of solidarity. How do you/i parse out those two very different intentions?
That’s just the thing. I/you can’t. By the time these representations have reached me/you there is no meaningful way to separate them, and that crisis of inseparability is the bolt of lightning that brought this project to life. I/you cannot say with certainty if my/your limp wrist is an innate behavior or a learned signal; I/you can spend the rest of this life with the philosophers, the cultural critics, the sociologists spinning wheels looking for the mysterious origins of my/your limp wrist, and even if I/you live long enough to definitively observe the birth of the limp wristed, what good would it do? When I/you sat down to draw with these ideas of queer representation on my/your mind, I/you were not worried about the true origins of my/your queer expression. I/you were more like “welp, I/you have got this limp wrist here, what am I/you gonna do with it”
-you/i can drape little threads with that limp wrist
With pinkies up, dandies. Pinkies up.
-In the studio, thread in hand, standing with an existential crisis of your/my queer expression at your/my side. That’s when the muse struck, and you/i was sent into a fugue state and the art flowed freely.
Don’t be dramatic, I/you know it's never like that. I/you started drawing pictures that looked more like mainstream cinema, that embraced the codes of pansies, and posies, and coy glances, and fussy clothes, and stolen touches. But I/you found a problem with seeking insight from euphemisms, by design euphemisms refuse candid information, their whole point is to provide plausible deniability to the existence of a subtext. When a euphemism is cornered and demanded to speak its truth, it will inevitably say “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
-lol ok; kiss your/my art school’s ass with that analysis? You/i spent like one day sketching golden-age-of-hollywood style queerness and threw it all out because “this shit is too fucking polite.”
haHA Yes you/i caught me/you, that is exactly what happened; I/you bailed on those drawings instantly. Those old Hollywood images are polite, I/you were drawing pictures for my/yourself. Polite euphemisms served no purpose. I/you were trying to figure out the relationship between who I/you desire, who I/you have been told are desirable, and the market of queer desire. Being polite and being coy, speaking in only hints and codes was getting nowhere. Fuck politeness.
-you/i am doing it [avoidance] again. These drawings are largely about fucking; 908 words so far, why haven’t you/i said that yet? Sissy love, stop censoring your/myself.
Ok. The truth of the matter is that under the history of nearly all queer representation (especially in cinema) is the threat of queer sex, queer people using their bodies to fuck. This is not a truth I/you revel in or celebrate, nor is it a truth worth fighting against; what’s been done, has been done; a queer on screen (historically) is an index of corrupt fucking, and pathological desire. Correct me/you if I/you are wrong, but the AFI 100 doesn’t include a single moment of queer happiness that goes unpunished, not that there is a wealth of queer anything in the AFI 100.
-it is literally impossible to respond to that statement, you/i am talking to your/myself
Touche. Moving on, I/you can sit right here and pull up nearly any of the films Russo analyzed that are dedicated to hiding, encoding, corrupting, and pathologising queer fucking and stream them for a small fee. Likewise I/you can just as easily sit right here and pull up the graphic and explicit pornographic antipode of those films and stream them for a small fee.
-so in a way you/i am saying that you/i am being sold images of queer oppression and images of queer liberation by the same entity.
Yes! But are these images of oppression inherently oppressive? Also, is anyone really liberated by the market of commercial porn?
-ugh, here’s your/my rhetorical question voice. Get on with it Mx. NPR….
Representation is cyclical and ever changing, short-hand evidence is in the reclamation of slurs like the n-word and the b-word, and faggot. As well as how camp and transparent code switching has been used to leverage pride and power to marginalized people.
-wanna back that claim up?
Just listen to some pop music from BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ artists.
If that is a glib, yet accurate unpacking of populist representation, then unpacking issues around pornographic representation was much more difficult for me/you.
-It is really important to remind you/me that this discussion is limited to pornographic production within a commercial market. Independent, homemade, niche, and realcore porn are not subject to the same standards of success that are being investigated.
-it is also important to remind you/me that some images are looked at and some images are looked through.
Yes, but it's late and I/you are tired. Let's pick this back up next time.
I/you would suggest picking up where the convo ended last night, but you/I have got that “i’m just sitting here waiting to spill the tea” self assured smirk on your/my face.
-i/you do. *smirk intensifies*
-you/i have spent a lot of time defending this work with the mantra “some queer art is meant for queer people, and that’s ok. Some queer art is made without regard for a straight audience, and that is ok too. Neither of these qualities should exclude queer art from being present in mainstream venues.”
-with this mantra you/i am fantasizing about a reality where queer representation and queer critique are happening outside of niche venues, fully in mainstream spaces, and, most importantly, without being mediated by heteronormative doctrine.
-but you/i am literally sitting alone in your/my living room, talking to your/myself, there is nothing at stake in this conversation right now, this is a first draft freewrite of some vague ideas, and still insulated with all this safety you/i am using the same rhetoric you/i use when addressing a heteronormative audience. When given the opportunity to ‘talk to your own, on your own’ you/i have balked and retreated to talking to an assumed cis-hetero-patriarical authority. Boop.
Guhr, you/i are not wrong. … wow, like wow. I/you uh…. I/you are gonna have to sit with this for a minute.
This has been kinda tough. I/you are not sure I/you have sufficiently unlearned the assumption of a cis-het-pat authority to speak directly to a queer audience without laying out a justification for my/your default position as a queer person. I/you’ve been tired from defining my/your default but have also been made to repeat this exercise so many times that it has become [open mouth weeping emoji] an automatic action.
-i/you know this is a tender topic, and maybe this is not the right time to press the issue, but you/i are not keeping a diary here. This is a text with a specific subject and goal. Is there anyway to connect your/my failure to embody a queer to queer rhetoric to “...and then what could happen bent to what will happen”
Yes, the studio visits. I/you had a number of studio visits while this work was being made. I/you really like having peers in the studio and talking through ideas.
-and how did the conversations go when this work was on the wall?
Mostly really well
-why are you/i hesitating to be frank about how you/i remember some of these studio visits went?
Because I/you feel like you can’t trust my/your own experience. Like how can I/you complain about the conversations had with people who have proved to me/you that they support me/you and my/your artwork.
-well, fuck it. Complain anyway.
[deep breath] Many were a waste of my/your time.
This was in school, so studio visits were pretty tightly scheduled to be an hour long. When this work was up one of two things would happen; either the visitor would come in, see the work, and immediately engage with the experience of the material and subject; or they would see the work and guide you/me to justify the work.
-Context is important, one must agree on the terms of the work in order to discuss the work. So after you provided context what kind of feedback did you get?
I/you never really got a chance to talk about the work in these studio visits. The whole time was spent by me/you delivering a cliff’s notes version Queer Theory 101, then usually get told that the work is in danger of being redundant in the face of canonized queer tokens like Mapplethorpe. (oh for fucks sake this shit happened to me too, so I started lying about it --which really WAS bad faith. Sorry this is supposed to be about you...)
-they used the words queer tokens?
No, but their feedback only makes sense in the context of tokenism; “Shockingly gay art peeked in the 90’s. This has already been done” only makes sense to me/you from the perspective that art only has room for one explicitly gay voice and Art has already decided, in perptuity, who that voice will be. This feedback also confidently assumes that my/your intentions are to shock the straight doods in the room.
-you/i don’t think of this work as shocking.
No. I/you will fully admit that it is frank artwork, but that is distinct from being intentionally shocking. And to be honest being called shocking has started to feel like an accusation. (it’s a way to dismiss it so that one doesn’t have to deal with the sincerity of it)
-shit. That is real. Okokok this brings me/you back to thanksgiving [fuck, my heart is racing at the thought of describing this] when my/your aunt pulled me/you away from family chat and asked that i/you be less “demostrably gay” as to not “confuse the children.” I/you stood there and stared in honest confusion because I/you could not figure out what she was talking about. The confusion must have been visible because my/your aunt then defined the word “demonstrably” as if that was the hurdle to my/your understanding. As she was talking I/you realized that when she approached me/you in the other room I/you had my/your arm around Peter.
I/you had considered my/your aunt to be one of my/your strongest allies within the family.
-Why am I/you so hesitant to say that these studio visits and my/your aunt have made you the direct subject of hardline bias?
Nervous lol. Like I/you know that each of these studio visits were with individual people who make their own choices and are their own person, so it feels like an informal fallacy to claim that I/you are definitely experiencing an implicit bias in these conversations.
-yo, the demographic breakdown of the studio visitors is worth something tho: 0% of femme/female visitors expressed resistance to viewing the images, 0% of queer visitors questioned the value of investigating porn production as an index of manufactured desire, 50% of cis straight male visitors kept their studio visits locked in these questions. (bleah. fuckers)
Yeah but don’t act like this is a viable data pool
-I/you are talking about my/your lived experience. Ugh, is this what it’s like to gaslight your/myself?
gay fear meme
-iknowright?! Look ‘ere, queerdo. I/you are going to have some food, watch some cartoons, hell, I/you are gonna paint my/your nails and dance to pop music before I/you continue this convo.
Self care, binches.
-this is really getting drawn out, i/you honestly thought this was gonna be a fifteen minute, thought organizing exercise
Haha yup. Well to be fair some shit went down that delayed this follow up convo; tho bath salts have been soaked in, nails have been painted on, beds have been rested in, and I/you are ready to get back into this.
-it’s not like you/i went to the spa. you/i threw your/my back out twice in one week
Sometimes elective self care comes in the form of required medical care.
-so how do you/I wanna start?
I/you don’t know. I/you wanna talk about sexual desire as I/you have experienced it, and I/you wanna talk about sexual desire as it was taught to me/you
-right, and at the same time there is a low key goal to do so with disregard for an imagined hetronormative authority. Do you/i have a practical plan on how to evict the imagined authority?
-perfect, time to get started….. Again.
Humans construct an image of the relationships they want from the relationships they see.
-lemme stop you there: too broad, too polite, talk about fucking
OK, gawd, settle down bossy. For the sake of this conversation all fucking requires consent; any act performed without concent, or with out the ability to freely provide consent will not fall under the term fucking. Fucking is the word I/you am using for human sexual acts that avoids being overly clinical and thus erasing the passionate reality of fucking. It also swerves away from moral assumptions that terms like making love rely on.
So studio production porn is a commodification of fucking; complete with all the scalabilty, mass production potential, and scarcity illusions that really thrive under capitalism.
-yeah great. Porn is delightful, fun, and can answer some therapeutic and/or cathartic needs; tho of course like anything that offers pleasure, people can fall into bad habits and damaging dependencies with it.
Ha, look at what you/I did just there. I/you said the word porn and immediately started listing pros and cons like i/you wanted to figure out whether porn should exist like *puffs up chest, snaps lapels* “I am going to figure this porn question out once and for all. Hrrumph.” *adjusts monocle, checks pocket watch*. The inquiries about whether porn is inherently good or bad tend to dominate conversations that include porn, which is by extension, also an argument over whether porn should or should not exist. Porn exists and no amount of hemming and hawing will change that in our lifetime. Like everyone chill dafuq out, porn is just vibing; either sit down, or move along.
-umhmm, yaass. *clinks glass three times* Hear that, everyone? No more talking about if porn itself is good or bad, it is an unimportant question.
-so you/i sat down to draw some fucking
And porn is (by definition) pictures of fucking
-tho you/i weren’t looking to elicit an explicit response
So what is a drawing of fucking that isn’t porn?
-a drawing of porn?
Haha, that’s IT.
-swerve: you/i say this work is about fucking. fucking is intimate. porn is the image of fucking (therefore also intimate). you/i regularly fuck a lot of people that look like the models in the porn these drawings are based on?
No. ….close, maybe once or twice but not like really really. Sorta. Yeah…. . I/you am not sure. No. no?
-ohhhh, bb. this isn’t adding up
You/I are inviting linear and logical rules to distract from a very illogical experience
-what experience is that?
Being taught to sexually desire my/your abusers.
Right?! All MSM pornography upholds the same archotype of desirable man as a heteronormative status quo. Straight men, straight passing men, and a simulacra of str8 behavior are at the center of MSM porn; along with a strict adherence to a grecian statue standard of beauty. This culturally defined desire is not limited to porn; the whole kit and kaboodle of western culture decided long ago what personality traits and behaviors makes a man desirable, and there is already plenty of work analyzing masculinity, but here are a few key characteristics of western masc to keep in mind: forcefulness equals vitality, femininity in any form equals weakness, weakness in men is to be punished, subservience in general is to be rewarded. So, putting porn aside for a second, all we adult queerdos alive today have been raised under a very narrow cis-het-white-male standard
Cultural education of desire happens long before knowledge or understanding of desire, fucking, and porn. Years before I/you even left elementary school, I/you understood that athletic, confident, leader types are the guys to get close to. This isn’t exclusive to queer kids, the intire culture is taught to desire this archetype in one way or another, “guys wanna be him, girls wanna be with him.” At a young age we queerdos are being taught, and internalizing these lessons on desirability without having any agency to say “this class does NOT apply to me, speak to my needs, or respect my safety.”
-swerve: Porn is a commodification of fucking, and capitalist commodifications are limiting.
Re: special attention to the hands, and touches (or almost touches) that happen in the images
-yeah but who is gonna notice those details
Anyone willing to look beyond the act of penetration as the only thing in the drawings
Talk more about fucking.
When I was a teenager I would sneak copies of the free rags like Gay Chicago, home to my room and hide them. The time I spent thumbing through them was limited and stolen moments with one ear to the ground and one eye on the door. So prioritising the joy of indulging naked desire I spent more time with the chat line ads, the strip club promos, and the reviews of porns. All the time I spent with these mags were rushed and tinged with paranoia, I was never gifted the time to get bored enough to delve into the other articles and texts I could have.
The pop culture of who’s hot doesn’t shift much between hetro/homo desire (and was even more narrow in the 90’s than it is today)
That guy on the football team that wanted to make-out sometimes, but would refuse to talk about it. Driving home listening to Freewheel by Team Dresch.
The word beauty is too small
Little indication is ever given as to whether the beauty in question is found or manufactured.
Beauty as experience
Beauty as tool.
The lie of natural beauty
How we are taught to see beauty
I am very curious about my desire. What do I find beautiful and what beauty do I overlook?Why do I overlook what I overlook? What is the overlap of beauty and desire and lust? (gotta bring up lust early because we are going to be talking about pictures of fucking) The art I make is usually me trying to figure things out, I never make art that illustrates a thought or need that I have already figured out, I use the act of making images as a way to answer questions I cannot easily put into words yet. I knew that I wanted to use thread as a drawing material (this is distinct from embroidery as a type of drawing).
That time i made that art
Why i try not engage with questions that use the term controversy.
Controversial art as a term implies the artist is intentionally trying to leverage backlash, or insight outcry
This is a position of bad faith (look up bad faith to see if i’m right)
It is a position of bad faith to make art with the intention of causing controversy because the artist must assume that their art will make someone mad (isn’t bad faith a form of deception? Doing something under false pretensions? I’m not sure making deliberately provocative work falls under that set of conditions if that is precisely what one sets out to do and is open about it rather than coy)
It is also a position of bad faith when one calls out art work for being controversial, because they are assuming the artist is intentionally egging the audience on. (is it, though? It may be presumptuous and cynical?)
I see kids on the playground shouting “oh yeah?!” “yeah!” back and forth endlessly until the grow into old children and old humans, but still children. Grumpy gramps in a beanie with a propeller top.
If i answer a question that identifies my work as controversial then I am complacent in the term controversy being attached to these drawings.
I will not do that because a controversy is mostly an argument over a moral stance, one that is based on opposition, and ultimately a controversy begs for the spectators to declare a winner.
I refuse to concede the idea that an argument is happening with these drawings, much less a moral one. These drawings are culled from my experience of sexual desire, and they are also artifacts of a commercial market that is readily delivered to anyone anywhere. There is nothing to argue here, no one’s opinion will change my experiences, they happened. they are set. No one’s moral outrage at my drawings can argue away the fact that porn is a very robust commercial market. By the same token, you can’t change the response others will have based on their own filters, experiences, yadda yadda yadda. So a delineation between your intent and set of goals and their reaction may be important.
Not for nothing, but just imagine looking at piece of artwork that was made by someone from a very different social position than your own, and imagine that artwork is about experiences you’ve never had and cannot have, imagine that artwork is a self-investigation of an identity oppositional to your own. So, made by someone unlike you, about things you cannot know, and asking questions you know nothing about.
Conversations that happened while I was making this work.
These are very ‘bold’ images
I wanted to make work about touch and about my relationship to desire and touch.
I thought about the way queer touch and queer desire has been codified in pop culture. These distant nearly invisible exchanges (think of the slow blinks shared at the beginning of Brokeback Mountain, fuck that movie but that’s a different essay). Queer touch is visually euphamized (euphamized or euthanized?) to stolen glances and and hidden grazes of fingertips. I specifically wanted to break from this restrictive cannon that was largely imposed by a hetronormative film industry.
Nineties gay artists already shocked us with frank depictions of unapologetic gay sexuality, like mapplethorpe, duh.
I did not have the wherewithal to fully process this when it was said to me. This observation comes up frequently in art school critiques (do you know we never ever ever ever talked about Mapplethorpe? It was like he was taboo. Which meant, of course, that we all went out and learned about Mapplethorpe)