michael j. morris


Queer Explorer’s Club

On of the many projects that I currently have in the works is a collaborative endeavor with two amazing individuals, Karl Cronin and Christopher Kennedy (who does amazing work like this). We will be working together on a project sponsored by Culture Push (NYC, NY) called The Laboratory for Independent Scholars. As our work together unfolds in the months to come, I am sure that I will be sharing perspectives of it here. However, a great project in which I have already been invited to be a part is the Queer Explorer’s Club. Christopher Kennedy introduced me to this project with the following description:

“Queer Explorers Club is a group of people.
People who are queer identifying.
We are only 4-5 most of the time.
We like to make stuff together. Sometimes we have dinner and read to each other.
Sometimes we knit. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we play outside and ride bikes.

For our first project we’ve been sharing stories.
About vulnerability and harassment.
In response I developed this screenprint and we’ve been wheatpasting them around Brooklyn and NYC as a gesture to reclaim places of vulnerability – or perhaps where boundaries have been crossed or formed.

So I’d love to send you one. Then you can wheatpaste it where you’d like. Or just have it for another space.”

This week I received my copy of the screenprint. I’ve been reflecting on places I’ve felt vulnerable that might function as an appropriate space to receive such a marker.

From the Queer Explorer’s Club website:
“You’re Just a Fucking Faggot
Where have you felt the most vulnerable with your gender
in public spaces
in private places.
In the exchange of a walk.
In the look of an eye, that turns into a shove.
Language; maybe more.
Please demarcate where and when your vulnerability has been.
And where it may be with geography and technology.

Download Template (PDF)
Instructions:
Please download the template, and mark where in real time
and in real space.
and in virtual space where your vulnerabilities may lie.
a history, or the present; always the future.”

The current list of places that might be appropriate:

14th Ave, Columbus, OH: this is the street from which I just moved. I walked to and from school/work everyday on this street. In the two years that I have lived here in Columbus, I have had things thrown at me (glass bottle, rock) and been shouted at (mainly “faggot”) more times than I care to count. I was mostly harassed by large groups of people in the front yards of apartment buildings, on game days more than any other time (I have a strong conviction that this is one of the many, many examples of how competitive athletic events cultivate the potential for degenerative, destructive, and aggressive social cultures . . . but maybe that’s another blog post). I never directly confronted those who had harassed me because I was always outnumbered, and while I was sober, mostly those harassing were not. I felt vulnerable and endangered.

Wells Hall, Belhaven College (now University), Jackson, Mississippi: This was the dormitory in which I lived during the first two years of my undergraduate experience. My harassment in Jackson was pervasive; I could not possibly mark all of the places and spaces in which I was harassed, felt vulnerable, or compromised. But this was the most persistent. It was an ongoing experience to come home to where I lived and be met by a group of athletes (again, I am not sure this is coincidental; not that all athletes are aggressors or oppressors, but that there does seem to be a common denominator in my experience). I was constantly called “faggot” and pushed on more than one occasion. I was always outnumbered. This was the main reason I eventually moved off campus, because I was no longer content or satisfied with feeling endangered in the place that I lived/my home. If I could journey back to Mississippi to mark that building, I would.

Belhaven was a place of vulnerability for other reasons as well. Because of the college’s [discriminatory] policies, there is generally an intense amount of secrecy surrounding homosexuality on campus. Queer identities are not only unwelcome, but are oppressed. During my sophomore year, there was a “documentary” on “former-homosexuals” (those who had been “cured” of their homosexuality through various religious-based “therapies”) that played on the college’s television station for a month. I was made to watch this documentary in two different settings. It was not unusual for me to be approached by faculty intent on “saving” me from my sexuality. There is a sense in which Belhaven as a whole functioned as a vulnerable/violating space.

More subtle though no less profound spaces might also include:
churches that I formerly attended
facebook
my bedroom
the house in which I grew up
various performance spaces
studio 2 in sullivant hall (where Autumn Quartet was made and practiced)
this blog (blogging for me is almost always a vulnerable experience)
etc.

Putting the print here is one virtual space that I am marking. It will also allow me to mark facebook. Once I have selected a “real” space, I plan on documenting that installation/inscription/marking.

Where are the places you might mark, and why?

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