Queer Reading Group - part of Queering the Collection and Deviant Practices

Foto/photo: Niek Tijsse Klasen

Queer Reading Group part of Queering the Collection and Deviant Practices

11/06/2017 - 02/07/2017

The Van Abbemuseum will host a weekly queer reading group on the subject of queer separatism. The sessions will include an introductory talk by artist and writer Eimear Walshe followed by group discussions that examine how, throughout history, queers have united to create spaces designed and organised on their own terms. Though usually used to describe the outright rejection of society, the series will take the widest possible definition of separatism, drawing on examples from social, political, domestic and educational spheres.

The motivations for queer withdrawal from straight society include, but are not limited to, seeking safety from violence; rest from discrimination; and promoting and protecting marginalised cultures. By looking at manifestos, personal essays, and artworks, the series will examine the impulse to separate, as well as the problems that this impulse raises in relation to power, exclusion, segregation, and political effectiveness.

The reading group is led by Eimear Walshe. Walshe's work seeks to reconcile queer histories with personal or local narratives through fiction, biography, and academic writing. Eimear Walshe receives financial assistance from the Arts Council of Ireland.

This reading group is part of Queering the Collection and the Deviant Practices research programmes at the Van Abbemuseum.

More information

To enquire further, and receive the reading list please contact: olle.lundin@vanabbe.nl. The sessions will be held in English.

Week 1: The Queer Club June 11 15:00 – 17:00 Museum Library

This week we will look at the role of separatism in the formation of social spaces that are designed and run with the aim of queer liberation and empowerment. The gay bar, for example, has long been a site of public contestation and violent police raids. Yet it has also served an important function in political organising, consciousness-raising, and the creation environments of care, empathy and understanding. Citing texts on the subject of 1950s lesbian bars, San Francisco fisting clubs, and radical queer communal living spaces, this session will concentrate on how these spaces operate and reflect on the ways in which they may or may not reaffirm hierarchies within the queer community.

Week 2: The Queer Library June 18 15:00 – 17:00 Museum Library

There is a systematic prejudice in the way that knowledge is validated, categorised and distributed. This has often resulted in the loss, neglect or deliberate erasure of queer history and culture. Museums, libraries, bookshops, publishers, and the Internet all perform a vital role in the collection and conservation of queer artifacts. But should knowledge be organised and separated according to sexuality? Who decides what is included and excluded? In this session, we will examine the politics of classification in the creation of queer canons.

Week 3: The Queer Family June 25 15:00 – 17:00 Museum Library

The nuclear family is the normative domestic unit. The ideology of the family is a concept that has often excluded to queers, who are understood as a threat to it. The family is usually defined in opposition to the radical politics of queer separatism. And yet their structures mirror one another: each of them is a closed-off unit that separates itself, socially and domestically, from the rest of society. This session will incorporate queer and socialist feminists critique of the family structure as a self-reproducing miniature of racist, capitalist hetero-patriarchy. It will also advance ideas that seek to reconcile queers and the family.

Week 4: The Queer Campus July 02 15:00 – 17:00 Museum Library

Through scholarship programmes and the establishment of specialised courses that centre the perspectives of marginalized communities, the university is trying to appear more inclusive. Yet these strategies of inclusion often reveal, within the university, a fundamentally elitist and exclusionary structure. This is exemplified in the opposition to campus safe spaces and the indignation about the use of trigger warnings in learning environments. Why are students' efforts towards self-protection and care seen as such a threat to education? Why does so-called 'language policing' in universities provoke such moral outrage, when the increased presence of actual police on campus is normalised and accepted?