Across Queer Time
"Last week I joined a sold-out, yet intimate gathering of people at The Garage for the film screening,Across Queer Time. Curated by artist, Jason Hanasik, Across Queer Time was part of the 12th Annual National Queer Arts Festival and featured thirteen artists including Rudy Lemcke, Curt McDowell, Marc Adelman, Tammy Rae Carland, Jesse Finely Reed, Barbara Hammer, Kristina Willemse, Tina Takemoto,Jennifer Parker, Cheryl Dunye, Julian Vargas, Margaret Tedesco, and Killer Banshee. Hanasik introduced the films describing them as oscillating around tension—fantasy, the world in which we wish we existed, and nightmare (which is, perhaps, part of our reality, as well). Indeed, the films cascaded through themes of illness, the fear and reality of AIDS, the intersections of racial identity, religion, and sexual desire, private spaces of homes and intimate relationships, and public interventions and demonstrations. Throughout the evening and over the past few days the title of the film screening continues to echo in my mind—across queer time. This title is especially thought provoking within the designation of June as National GLBTQ PRIDE month, a sanctified 30 day time period in which people throughout the country celebrate and pay homage to GLBTQ history—many of whom flock to San Francisco to participate in the overwhelming number of events, parties, parades and marches.
What exactly constitutes queer time? How is time, and consequently space, understood through queer identities? How do the films featured in Across Queer Time represent this experience? In my own thinking, experience, and more formal research (influenced mostly by Judith Halberstam’s recent publication, the title of which I borrow for this blog post) queer time can be defined as a way of being that exists beyond the linear and conventional notions of familial institutions and biological reproduction. It allows for a reinterpretation of family and a radical reformulation of kinship. Queer time also emerges in the context of struggles that are inherently political and personal, such as the AIDS epidemic and the communities formed through collective action and protest. Yet, the films chosen by Hanasik refuse to be directly defined by any formalized theories of queer time and I think their success lies within this refusal. Hanasik made a point to include an intergenerational perspective in Across Queer Time with films ranging from 1974 to 2009. More than this obvious relationship to time, the films featured non-linear narratives and film sequences, and made visible queer spaces, the slippages in identities, relationships, while questioning the time and space in which these experiences exist. The very designation of the term “queer” attempts to dislodge itself from a gay/straight dichotomy to exist within a liminal space of non-definition."