Review: The Great Refusal: Videos Taking on New Queer Aesthetics / Hyperallergic

A screenshot of Dan Paz’s “Bathhouse” (2011). (via Gene Siskel Center)

CHICAGO — The Great Refusal: Taking on New Queer Aesthetics induces a sort of lonely feel, one that falls closer in line with Lee Edelman’s No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive, which argues that “the efficacy of queerness lies in its very willingness to embrace this refusal of the social and political order” than the playful camp of Planet Unicorn. It is after Lee Edelman’s polemic text, and namely the notion of “refusal,” that this video screening and the larger exhibition series takes its name. Yet, if queerness is all about transcending and transforming beyond normative modes of being and believing, why do the works in this screening mostly rely on queer theory texts of the past? This video screening presents 11 videos covering topics of the abject body, intersections of sex and death, the gay mystic, explorations of S/M fantasies and fetish, power plays, the bathhouse, and the odd world of online amateur porn.

Ivan Lozano’s 15-minute video “King Nepture” (2012) explores the intersection of mysticism, astrology, and the general spiritual void through a queer lens. He investigates Neptune, the planet that rules his Pisces sun sign (mind you, his moon is in Gemini, wink). Splicing stream-of-consciousness text with visuals of a flashlight investigating his nude form a la Dancer in the Dark,the video serves to reunite the artist with his ruling planet. At times employing language of a master/slave relationship, Lozano’s play with pop spirituality and mysticism is the least academic queer work in this show.

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