QUEER HERE/QUEER NOW at VTape (401 Richmond West, #452), to February 2. 416-351-1317. Rating: NN
In the first part of Queer Here/ Queer Now, a three-part curatorial series, local theorist John Paul Ricco focuses on redefining queer love. But overall this show raises red flags rather than red-hot admiration.
Ricco says he chooses works that “voice the unavowable gap between desire and image that is the space of love” and “make a queer antinormativity that does not look back to domesticity.”
This concept is manifested in a group video program ranging from an IM exchange between long-distance lovers (Doug Ischar) to linguistic tongue-tying about the impossibility of communication (Deirdre Logue) to an art doc on love among queer Lebanese men (Akram Zatari). There’s also a Genet-inspired installation featuring a separating wall as key to two men’s love (Silvia Gruner).
First flag: though Ricco’s arguing for cruising and distant or anonymous sex as a model for liberated love, these videos make that seem rather unappealing. Ischar’s look at a supposedly fun public sex fest comes off more gloomy than glorious, and Logue’s cryptic-ness evokes claustrophobia more than come-ons.
Second, in outlining an “anti-normative, non-domestic” ideal for queer love, Ricco’s work restricts the types of relationships it’s okay for queer folk to choose. No one wants wholesale Disneyfication of same-sex pairings, but the idea of “anything goes between consenting adults” must apply to baking cookies and raising kids as well as shooting up and playing rough, right?
Third, it’s my experience that seeking out relationships where a “wall” of unattainability fuels desire is a formula not for love but for disappointment. It’s painful to see such walls eroticized here as “the answer” to the “problem of love” for everyone.
For whatever reason, I’m not feelin’ the love. Maybe those who are “queer enough” will.