And tomorrow, for my last performance in class, I’m crawling my way out of this giant egg / black silk cocoon.
This new performance is based on research and theories surrounding queer utopias. Through my movement/vocal/sound/dance work, I’m exploring the concept of being dis-gendered (similar do dysfunction, dystopia, discord, dissonance): failure of one’s gender presentation to “stick” to a binary.
I’m also incorporating themes of primitivism and sexuality, based on research on histories of Asian/Filipino masculinities.
This is probably the craziest, weirdest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m super stoked about it.
Day 1 at the Midwest Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference (Theme: Failure)
- Jack began the talk by elaborating on the concept of “unlearning.” He gave an anecdote about an instructor colleague who considered his students to be blank slates whom he must then fill with knowledge. This is obviously problematic, and enforces a hierarchy of learning, and completely discredits new ways in which new generations learn.
- Rather than bemoaning the quick and simultaneous bursts of new media, and reminiscing on the benefits of slow, high culture, during which information was doled out in long, in-depth, lectures, why are we not, instead, looking at ways in which new media (and new modes of information proliferation) are beneficial? And perhaps critiquing the outdated modes? It is a new era with new needs, and new and different relations between subjects.
- Learning today happens in dynamic fields of exchange (HEY TUMBLR!), no longer in transcription of knowledge from senior to junior. For both have much to learn from the other.
- On systemic failure: Capitalism claims to offer equal opportunities of success. This is simply a false belief, because it hides the fact that Capitalism is actually based on SUCCESS OF THE FEW, AS ENGINEERED BY THE FAILURE OF THE MANY.
- Police, education, politics, press, and other modes of cultural production depend of Failure. A cop’s success is based on the failure of a “criminal,” “drug dealer,” or other figure - most often the Black male. Rates of criminalization, penalty, and incarceration are highly disproportionate to actual crimes committed by whites vs. blacks. This is very much the effect of Capitalism that is hidden from plain sight.
- I had a conversation with Jack Halberstam afterward about the Philippine state and how it promotes the market of Overseas Filipino Workers and the “exportation of care” - upholding Filipino (gendered and often subservient) service in other countries as a source of national pride and power. In this sense, capitalism reframes the failure as success - though not so simply. Failure and success are measured differently by different people, and at different levels of power.
- Capitalism hides its flaws in the guise of “democracy,” by engineering success through distraction, with relationship to systems. During the recent economic crash, banks were bailed out by the same people they have hurt. But the result is painted as if the survival of banks is more important to nationhood than the survival of its people.
- Jack also discussed the importance of children’s movies, and the difference between movies made for adults (who watch to “see what happens”) vs. those made for children (who watch just to see, and each repeated viewing reconfiguring in new ways). Children’s movies (especially those rendered in CGI) are actually quite anarchistic (and often socialist) in their ability to offer alternative narratives: of community building, the importance of working together for the success of the many, taking down systems of power and abuse.
- We have much to learn about unlearning from the “low theory” of mass media and new modes of information distribution. It is important to find ways of breaking down modes of learned (and normalized) behavior to figure out new solutions for living in a world no longer served by the false ideals of capitalism, independence, and self-serfdom. The age of “I’m doing well, I got out of my oppressive situations (while everyone else is left there)” is making way for a new age of “I’m doing well, because we’re all doing well.”
A Kid Again
Public Installation, Chicago Suburbs, IL,
A Kid Again started as a means to contest how public space is deemed heterosexual space by default; by adding my queer narrative to the public sphere, I wanted take up those physical spaces where I felt my identity was either a burden or simply erased. Using the past, I developed a sort of queer map of moments in the suburbs where I grew up.
When I distilled the 11 moments to their circumstances, I realized how misinformed and harmful my perceptions of acceptance, free will, and reality were as a child and adolescent. I had internalized homophobia to the point where I viewed my existence as an “other-sexual” as an inconvenience to “normal” people. This project attempts to start, in public, those dialogues that I never could.
So I printed the moments on signs, put them in the locations where they occurred, and expressed those things that I felt I was never supposed to.
After 5 hours (from 5 AM to 10 AM), there were 3 signs left standing. Many were taken within 2 hours of their installation.
Chicago, July 3rd, 2012