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There are few things I’d like less than to write about THE tema. Writing, commenting on the virus crisis. But I have no choice but to do it from here, from this moment of crisis.
Like so many other people, I have been compulsively reading press news and texts written by thinkers, who usually write them and whom we usually read: Agamben, Bifo, Zizek. Those voices and also, those that come from more openly queer and feminist positions: Paul B. Preciado, Judith Butler, texts where the crisis intersects with Eve Sedgwik’s theory of care. Among all the flow of information there is also the contact with family and friends in Barcelona, since I don’t live there anymore, we are twice as far away. Calls and chats in which one day we make jokes and laugh and the next day we are sad, sharing anxiety and paranoia.
After intensively consuming stories about the pandemic, I have nothing to say, except to repeat or quote what has already been written and worry about almost everything. I have no tools or knowledge to analyze the facts, much less their consequences. I don’t know how to digest the ambivalence of the fact that these days the air is cleaner in most cities, that swans and dolphins have returned to Venice or that wild boards walk freely in the Diagonal of Barcelona. I also don’t have an ex to write love letters to.
But it’s time to close the month of March with A*Desk, it is inevitable to be in the shared moment and suddenly, the title and theme raised for the month of March, has become a prediction but also an irony. At this moment there is a lot of space for contradictions, this is one more.
“Close to the body” was proposed as a theme wide enough to include texts from different strategies, formats and positions. In the end, to speak of bodies is always to speak of vulnerability, of fragility and power, of agency and interdependence. It is to speak of intimacy with ideas, of everything that overflows from theory, is situated and positioned from what they can and from the places that bodies occupy. It is talking about collapsing distances between words and things.
I invited Jorge Díaz, a Chilean queer and feminist scientist; Hector Acuña, a migrant and transvestite researcher and artist living in Barcelona; Lia Garcia, a poet and trans activist from Mexico; Ania Nowak, an artist and choreographer between Berlin and Poland, who researches on the technologies of love; Ikram Bouloum, a DJ from Barcelona who researches and practices from the intersectionality through music. From locations and strategies far from each other, we shared for a month, a writing space from which to think and feel.
With this team, the intention was to navigate the narratives about the body, skin, contact and affection, love and anger of knowing one’s body occupying more or less privileged places depending on race, sexual identity, economic or cultural heritage, productivity.
In less than a month, the body has come to be at the centre of politics, suspicion and control. At the same time, in these last two weeks, we have never been so far away from other bodies, from the possibility of embracing them, of touching them. Not being able to embrace by decree.
The intention was to talk about the body, but not in this way.
Although perhaps it is precisely this that makes these texts reverberate, precisely the impossibility of normality in these moments and the overlapping of times while everything stops.
Jorge Díaz spoke of laboratories and hegemony in scientific discourses, of childhoods outside the expectations of the assigned gender, of colonization also in scientific research. Priorities, words and formulas defining and hierarchizing the biological, the material and the immaterial. Whoever names and puts words to things, we already know who he continues to be in his majority and from which places the presumed objectivity of the sciences is announced.
Hector Acuña wrote about migrant bodies circulating in European cities, of cruising and encounters, of the transvestite as a flight-refusal to control and the norm, of struggle wearing heels, knowledge adorned with feathers and stones.
Ania Nowak transcribed a performance and shared the video record of it. Choreography and gesture, words and repetitions. It was also impossible to translate the word “fuck” from English into Spanish or Catalan in all its ambivalence.
Lia Garcia opened doors and windows to the intimate as political, the tremors, hugs and tears as knowledge, body theory. Resonating in the text that call from a radical present, from the here and now, the presence as pure rebellion: ”here is the trans resistance.” That which we have shouted in so many demonstrations by the streets of different cities.
The last collaboration, in the midst of despair, is no longer text: it is music, rhythm, sound. Organic becomes vibration: Ikram collaborated this March with a music playlist titled ”my fantasy is to be body-poetry in the voices of others”.
All these texts and proposals that have been appearing during the month of March, become at the same time, nostalgia and possibility.
Rethinking and situating scientific discourses, so as not to forget that nothing is objective, nor does it happen outside of capitalist, patriarchal and colonial logic.
To think of cruising, the sexual encounter agreed upon as a crack from which to materialize desire. On contagion, stigma and survival strategies, we should remember the narrative around HIV and faggot resistance.
Give value to words and gestures, repeat as many times as necessary to understand that identity, sex and desire, was never a fixed or stable trident. The importance of words in instituting political subjects, announcing bodies and desires.
Remember that no struggle will be just if it does not include affection and emotional work. No battle will be won without us, the others and those not yet named, without those yet to come.
None of this without the possibility of enjoyment, music, disconnection and dance, encounter.
After all, we live in times of change, uncertainty and anguish. But hasn’t this been the case for many people for a long time?
These days something that Jorge Díaz wrote on his Facebook wall also resonates:
“I think the world has already ended many times, for many people, from different times. Each one is hatching its own little apocalypse.”
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)