Oct. 30 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Oiticica: Pharmacofictions

Oiticica: Pharmacofictions

Hélio Oiticica avec Bólides et Parangolés dans son atelier rue Engenheiro Alfredo Duarte, Rio de Janeiro, ca. 1965. Photo : © Projeto Hélio Oiticica

Hélio Oiticica with Bólides and Parangolés at his studio, Engenheiro Alfredo Duarte Street, Rio de Janeiro, ca. 1965. Photo: © Projeto Hélio Oiticica.

The Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main (MMK) is presenting the biggest European retrospective exhibition of the work of the Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica, running until the 12th January 2014. You will know Oiticica, perhaps without realising, because in 1968 Caetano Veloso used the title of one of his artworks for a music album which would make it world famous: Tropicalia. Oiticica’s Tropicalia was an installation inspired by the favelas of Brazil, with it’s own beach hut, sand, real plants and living parrots. Every contemporary art museum wants to have its own Tropicalia now, and yet the work of Oiticica, more metabolic than object based, more affective than retinal, is still to be discovered.

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Oct. 3 2013 | Memory lapse | 1

Revisiting Womanhouse

Memory lapse
Womanhouse, Miriam Shapiro et Judy Chicago, 1972

Cover of the Exhibition Catalogue Womanhouse (showing Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro). Design by Sheila de Bretteville. (Feminist Art Program, California Institute of the Arts, 1972). Photo © Donald Woodman. Courtesy of “Through the Flower” archive

In October the curatorial and activist collective a people is missing will republish and distribute a video documentary by Johanna Demetrakas entitled Womanhouse (1974, 47 min.) for this first time in France. I still remember when I first saw the documentary; an afternoon in New York in Laura Cottingham’s house. Laura had undertaken an expansive investigation about feminist artistic practices in North America in the 1970’s in order to make Not For Sale (1998), which is without doubt the best documentary about the theme to date.  In her personal archive was the Demetrakas video.  At the time I situated myself as queer, while Laura continued to position herself as a radical feminist. Watching the documentary about Womanhouse together, we reconciled each other and managed not to get trapped in the indeterminable debate between post-structural criticism and socialist feminism.  After all we have the same history in common.

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Sep. 11 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Gironcoli Vs. Money. Art as a dissident apparatus of verification

Gironcoli Vs. Money. Art as a dissident apparatus of verification


Bruno Gironcoli, Untitled (détail), 1995/96. License Creative Commons

A few days ago the Constitutional Court of Germany made a surprising announcement: an “undetermined sex” will be legalized, active from November 2013, as an option to mark on the birth certificate of those born within federal territory. Germany has thus become the first country in the European Union to recognize the administrative status of a third sex.  Although according to the German government, the “undetermined sex” will serve only as a temporal label (allowing the parents to designate their baby’s gender until the child is able to make the choice alone), the existence of an administrative alternative to the established binary represents a line of flight from the dominant sex/gender model – according to which there exist only two natural, healthy sexes that correspond to two psychological and social genders. In the last couple of years Australia and Argentina have also modified the administrative requisites through which sex is assigned. These changes are not random.  We find ourselves in the midst of an epistemic crisis in the system of representation of sex similar to the crisis that, in the sixteenth century, saw a radical shift from the Ptolemic representation of the movement of the planets to the helio-centric picture.  The system of representation of sex awaits a Copernican revolution that appears to frustrate those who, up until now, have benefited from the political-sexual hegemony.

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Aug. 2 2013 | Uncategorized | Comments Off on Lessons in Style

Lessons in Style


La Manif pour Tous, Facebook post.

As you may have guessed from my absence from the blog in the last couple of weeks, I have been voluntarily disconnected from the Internet, enjoying a detox, getting used to nourishing myself with water, sun and passing the time accompanied by dogs and goats; materials and presences which are decidedly less volatile that the signs of the screen. Before switching on the computer I had plans to talk about the new cycle of revolutions currently being announced, about transfeminist indigenism in Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Brazil…, about the history of colonization, about those that resisted slavery and the plantation economy, about the necessity to re-edit the work of Eric Williams and Herbert Aptheker in French and Spanish and about the histories still to be written…in the end, I’m going to talk about the first image I received in my inbox.

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Jun. 10 2013 | Action | Comments Off on Ecosexual Marriage with Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens

Ecosexual Marriage with Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens

Ecosexual Performance, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens, SF MOMA, June 2, 2013.

Ecosexual Performance, Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens, SF MOMA, June 2, 2013.

Last weekend we organised an ecosex workshop and conference in the Reina Sofia Museum with artists Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stevens. It makes me happy to think that while fundamentalist catholic groups and the French extreme right were protesting against same-sex marriage and parenting in the streets of Paris, a group of 40 people were getting married to the Earth in the Retiro Park in Madrid under the auspices of Stephens and Sprinkle.  These were our vows: “Earth, we promise to be your lovers. Don’t let us get too far from you. We promise to love you until death do us part.” An army of lovers unite against the empire of war.

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May. 27 2013 | Memory lapse | Comments Off on Carol Rama For Ever (2/2)

Carol Rama For Ever (2/2)

Memory lapse
Carol Rama's studio, Turin, 2012. Photo Beatriz Preciado

Studio de Carol Rama, Turin, 2012, Photo Beatriz Preciado

Teresa Grandes (who is co-curating this exhibition with me) and I went to Turin to see the works. More comfortable moving among the artist’s circuits than those of the gallerists and collectors, I let myself be guided through the twists and turns of the sinuous territories of the commercial art world by the experience and know-how of Teresa Grandes. We have already seen hundreds of reproduced images of Carol Rama’s work but we’ve never seen them face to face. Furthermore, Carol Rama is still alive: born in 1918 she is approaching a hundred.

Everyone has warned us about the difficulties and challenges posed by getting access to Carol Rama’s work. We arrive in Turin as two curators dressed up as tourists. Our contact in Turin is Cristina Mundici, who has organised and curated many of Carol’s exhibitions and is now running the Carol Rama archive with a group of experts and friends. Cristina opened the rest of the doors for us, taking us to see all of the collectors. In four days we saw more than 300 works many of which continue to be unknown after years shut away in garages and basements.

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May. 24 2013 | Memory lapse | Comments Off on Carol Rama for ever (1/2)

Carol Rama for ever (1/2)

Memory lapse
Carol Rama, Appassionata, 1939. Courtesy of Galleria Franco Masoero, Turin

Carol Rama, Appassionata, 1939. Courtesy of Galleria Franco Masoero, Turin

At the same time as I try to write a political history of the organs (not as quickly as I would like incidentally) I have also been trying to curate an exhibition of Carol Rama’s work, commissioned by the director of Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA), Bartomeu Marí, which will open in 2014. Although I’ve been working in the context of the museum for over ten years now, my relationship with the format of the exhibition has always been distant. The museum, more than the university, has been an apt place for rethinking the relationship between languages, the representations of sexuality, of gender, of the body and the politics of resistance to processes of normalisation.  As an experiment in public micro-spheres, the museum puts in dialogue artistic practices, the processing power of social movements and the critical innovations of the humanities. It’s a place in which counter-fictions are invented; a place where techniques of dissident subjectivities can be tested.

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May. 21 2013 | About | Comments Off on Skin of a Rat

Skin of a Rat


Photo : Lea Crespi

Over the next couple of months Jeu de Paume’s blog will expand its area of debate from artistic practices and contemporary cultures to the politics of the body, gender and sexuality. My intention is to “install” a transfeminist philosophy blog within the digital home of a cultural institution; an act which, given the resistance of French museums to promote the insubordination of normative gender and sexual policies, I imagine to be as profane and precarious as introducing a pack of rats in a sports gymnasium. If I’m thinking about rats it’s because the Jeu de Paume Gallery, before it became an art gallery, was once the most distinguished Parisian centres for playing the game of Handball. One of the oldest racket sports —an ancestor of the Basque Pelota— the game entails hitting with your hand a ball made from, as the legend goes, the skin of a rat. It was in a different hall dedicated to jeu de paume, in Versailles, where, on the 20th June 1789, the French National Assembly declared itself a constituent body opposed to the King, thus paving the way for the processes of social transformation that would later be referred to as The French Revolution. Just as one day the third state of the realm rose up against the sovereign power of the Former Rule, today the skinless rats of cognitive capitalism are too rising up, calling for somato-political revolution and semiotic-sex: gays, butches, feminists, junkies, migrants, the undocumented, sex workers, crips, HIV positives, transsexuals, transgenders….the game of the rat has begun. The revolt pulses in the digital mousetrap of Jeu de Paume.
Thanks to Rebecca Close for the proof reading and translation of the blog in English.

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