World Picture

Davis, G. (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

Description

The theme for this year's 'World Picture' conference is 'Reproduction'. I am giving a talk at the event with the title 'Cruising Haunts'.

This is the abstract for the talk:

Throughout the 1980s, the Polish queer activist Ryszard Kisiel travelled across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), taking photographs of gay male cruising spots (saunas, parks, beaches, and so on). In June and July 2018, the Gdanska Galeria Miejska (in Gdansk, Poland) hosted an exhibition of these photographs, as well as various other materials from Kisiel’s archive including his self-penned 'Polish Gay Guide on the European Socialist Countries'. The exhibition, titled 'Kruzing', invited reflection on the shifting terrain of queer life in the CEE pre- and post-1989, including the disappearance or persistence of specific cruising locales. It also registered the inability of photography, a medium associated with reproduction, to adequately capture the fleeting libidinal pleasures of practices such as cruising – practices that are emblematic of non-reproductive sexuality but which continue to reproduce themselves as habitual behavioural strategies.

Kisiel’s photographs of cruising haunts are haunting, are a haunting; their exhibition in 2018 serves as an instance of queer haunting, one with the potential to unsettle. Carla Frecerro, drawing on Derrida’s 'Specters of Marx', has articulated a model of queer spectrality, a method of queer history that ‘involves an openness to the possibility of being haunted, even inhabited by ghosts.’ The power of this spectrality, she writes, ‘is related to survival, to “living well”, and to the “pleasures of mortal creatures”, survivals and pleasures that have little to do with normative understandings of biological reproduction.’ What is the value, in the present moment, of revisiting – even attempting to reawaken – queer experiences from recent history? What survives, or is reproduced, in Kisiel’s photographs, and who benefits from their (re)exposure?
Period12 Dec 201813 Dec 2018
Event typeConference
LocationCambridge, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Keywords

  • queer studies
  • queer theory
  • photography
  • cruising the 70s
  • haunting
  • cruising