CHICAGO — The Great Refusal: Taking on New Queer Aesthetics induces a sort of lonely feel, one that falls closer in line with Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive, which argues that “the efficacy of queerness lies in its very willingness to embrace this refusal of the social and political order” than the playful camp of Planet Unicorn. It is after Lee Edelman’s polemic text, and namely the notion of “refusal,” that this video screening and the larger exhibition series takes its name. Yet, if queerness is all about transcending and transforming beyond normative modes of being and believing, why do the works in this screening mostly rely on queer theory texts of the past? This video screening presents 11 videos covering topics of the abject body, intersections of sex and death, the gay mystic, explorations of S/M fantasies and fetish, power plays, the bathhouse, and the odd world of online amateur porn.
CHICAGO — I’d cruise slick Chicago boy bodies at the infamous bathhouse Steamworks if I were a cisboy, or at least marginally passable as an effeminate dude. Suffice it to say that my gender isn’t welcome amidst the mist of those showers. My desire for dick instead led me to The Great Refusal: Taking on New Queer Aesthetics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries. Curated by SAIC faculty member Oli Rodriguez in collaboration with SAIC undergraduates and recent alumni, the exhibition spans nearly four white-cube gallery spaces and encompasses work by more than 50 artists.
Last month the Jewish Museum removed San Francisco artist Marc Adelman’s controversial photo installation “Stelen (Columns)” (2007–11) from its exhibition Composed: Identity, Politics, Sex. Adelman’s piece, which is part of the Jewish Museum’s collection, consists of 150 profile pictures found on the German gay dating site GayRomeo.com taken at Peter Eisenman’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin.
Wading my way through an opening crowd consisting of a bizarre combination of bearded and flanneled Bushwick hipsters, New York Times critic Roberta Smith and MoMA PS1 curator Klaus Biesenbach at Chelsea gallery Luhring Augustine’s new Bushwick location, I was shocked to discover a cold screensaver-esque video installation by filmmaker Charles Atlas, leaving me with some serious questions about the progress and demands on queer art.