What?s Queer Here? (advertising slogan for the 1998 exhibition 'From the Corner of the Eye' at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam)
01 / 2008 - 01 / 2011
The advertising slogan for the 1998 exhibition From the Corner of the Eye at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, What s Queer Here? brings to the fore the deployment of queer as a political signifier that refuses to identify or represent. The phrase seeks out a what rather than a who: some or other thing, phenomenon, inclination, tendency, or potential. Moreover, it binds that what to a here, suggesting that what s queer here may not necessarily be queer there, and vice versa. The cover of the exhibition catalogue shows Ugo Rondinone s Don t Live Here Anymore (1997), a photograph of a wispy guy who looks away from the camera and outside the frame, as if to displace the identifying gaze to elsewhere; or, as if to focus attention on something more interesting that is happening just outside our, but not his, field of vision. Prevalent and contested in activism and academia since the late 1980s in variegated guises, queer questions and suspends the fateful bonds between what and who we like and who we are, and perhaps most productively refuses to decide in advance what is and what is not politically and/or epistemologically serious. This project will continue, critique, and extend the legacies of what has become known as queer theory, critically appropriate these for our ongoing research projects, as well as propose and try out new priorities, affiliations, objects, and concerns for the field. Those may include a renewed focus on sexuality in relation to class and labor, to the state and civil society, to activist practices and alternatives, to postcolonial migration, tourism, and globalization, to the biopolitical discipline of the (re)production of healthy bodies and minds, and to the liberal politics of identity that enshrines, some have argued, a new homonormativity in the West. Our goals are to facilitate exchange and debate between scholars working with queer theory (comfortably or uncomfortably), both within and beyond the Netherlands; to organize a future edition of ASCA s yearly Soiree meetings; and to reflect intently on what s queer here, now, in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam.