After harshing on one of the presentations at the Space RE:solutions conference, I offer this On-the-Other-Hand: the panel that followed on Queer Visualities, featuring talks by João P. Marques Florêncio and Ernst van der Wal, was terrific. They both offered some urgent and complex ideas.
Marques Florêncio seeks to rework queer theory through what he called an ecology of the art event. This is his effort to bring the lessons and metaphors of ecology into relation with queer cultural performance, as a strategy to resist the normalization and flattening he sees happening in the latest chapters of gay rights struggle. He didn’t talk about it, but I suppose I would offer the focus on the gay and lesbian right to serve in the American military as a prime example of this flattening. Perhaps more controversially from a left perspective would be the efforts to achieve the right to marry. Either way, I can see what he’s talking about, and really found his suggested path forward provocative and promising.
Van der Wal, for his part, offered a nuanced analysis of the struggle for queer liberation in South Africa. There much of the retrograde sexual politics are being driven by a discourse of black African nationalism, in which “deviant” sexualities are described as colonial impositions on a “natural” African heteronormative sexuality. This of course greatly complicates the work of glbt activists in terms of how they use images to portray their movement. Van der Wal showed examples of images announcing various activist events and gave accounts of the background debates involved regarding the different meanings that might attach to the racial representation. He also discussed the complications in media representation of black lesbians, including those victimized by the horrible violence known as "corrective rape." Van der Wal had no clear answers but I’m convinced that he is asking the right questions.
You can read both abstracts on this page.