To all my homosexual schoolmasters: queer ways of learning Conal McStravick’s Learning in a Public Medium

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This paper considers the queer learning in Conal McStravick’s active-research project Learning in a Public Medium. The project engaged with the life and art historical legacy of artist Stuart Marshall (1949—93), bridging earlier avant-garde works in sound and moving-image from the late 1960s and early 1970s, with his more well-known gay activism in video and film, from the 1980s until his untimely death from AIDS-related illness in 1993. Learning in a Public Medium is exemplary of a turn in the past decade or so towards previous moments of LGBTQIA politics and practice, by a younger generation of queer and trans artists, activists, and cultural workers. In this paper I consider specifically what we might call, borrowing from Catherine Grant’s reading of artist P. Staff’s engagement with gay subcultural pasts, the ‘performative pedagogies’ of Learning in a Public Medium. The paper seeks to bridge pre-existing understandings of ways of learning, from the likes of Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Ranciere, with José Esteban Muñoz’s proposition of ‘queer acts’ as a means of learning about, and indeed accounting for queer pasts within academic research. Queer acts account for queerness as a structure of feelings, that is the ephemerality of queer existence caught in furtive glances or a knowing walk [quote]. I outline this crucial component of McStravick’s artistic enquiry into Marshall as it locates queer ways of knowing via archival interventions. Specifically, the project tracks what we might call, borrowing from Sarah Ahmed, a ‘wonky genealogy’ of sorts that traces the ways in which knowledge is transmitted and exchanged amongst knowing queers and unassuming co-conspirators. Learning is a Public Medium is a project that provides a comprehensive survey of the life and works of Marshall through a public and performative engagement and enacting of politics and practices from the past.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022

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