From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks – 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年

Gay is a word that doesn’t have to mean anything, but sometimes does. It swells into significance on occasions when the difference it implies becomes either the target of dispute or the cause of particular celebration. I’m lucky enough to rarely experience dispute and, for that reason, also see little reason to celebrate. Gay’s the air I breathe: it’s perfectly whatever.

Patrick Angus, who died in 1992 aged 38, suffered another kind of atmosphere. His eyes, as they gazed out of a 1980s self-portrait at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart earlier this year, are pensive but unmistakably on guard. Some 200 of Angus’s works made up the exhibition: ‘Private Show’, the first major survey of the American painter in Europe. Angus documented a scene that is no more; people, including himself, whose absence, even 30 years on, continues to feel stark: New York’s gay saunas and strip clubs, friends and lovers in bright interiors, suburban landscapes, all wrought through his brush into democratic fields of colour. Far from overwhelmed by identity, there is something particularly gay about his pictures, if such a thing can even be said to exist. No, of course, there’s no ‘gay look’, except for a look in the eye: Angus’s, in that self-portrait, sensitive, serious, alert. Someone who knows that their peace rests on permission that may be revoked at any time.


From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks - 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年

Patrick Angus, Self Portrait, oil on canvas. Courtesy: Museum der Stadt Bensheim

In November, I was trapped in the middle of a street crossing at Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz as a neo-Nazi demonstration passed me on either side. It was suddenly tumultuous. People moving erratically, police everywhere: the boundaries of the march were porous. I have never felt unsafe on the streets of Berlin, no matter how late an hour or how strange a place I might have found myself in. I have never had to run away. I have never, ever, in my adult life, called my dad in a frightened panic. ‘What’s going on?’, he asked. 

As I walked off my fluster, past Peter Eisenman’s holocaust memorial, through the Brandenburg Gate to the Nivea flagship store on Unter den Linden and, finally, home, I asked myself this question: what the hell is going on? Looking back on this event, it strikes me that what will eventually stand out as remarkable will not be the fact that it took place, nor that the demonstrators carried among their flags the Stars and Stripes, but how severely it affected me. This was my first encounter with a sort of occurrence that is soon to become commonplace. Indeed, in other places and for other people, it has already become so.

In September, the queer artist and activist Zak Kostopoulos was murdered in Athens in what has since been described as a lynching. In October, in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro was elected president. Beto de Jesus, the founder of São Paulo’s gay pride parade told The Guardian: ‘It’s as if the gates of hell have been opened – as if hunting season had been declared.’ I’m not saying we should all be scared. I’m just saying I shouldn’t have been surprised.

In her essay, ‘A Nice Well-Behaved Fucked-Up Person’ (1973), Jill Johnston recalls coming to her ‘lesbian senses’ upon arriving in New York in the 1950s, ‘as an exercise in violence interrupted by short periods of violence’: rape, clandestine abortions, rampant misogyny. ‘That I survived to ever think the thought was one of the minor social miracles of the day. I should’ve won the lavender heart for survival’, she writes in her relentless, snarky and barely punctuated prose. ‘By the time I was through I had experienced all new york [sic] had to offer short of jail.’


From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks - 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年

Counter demonstration to the right-wing extremist march on the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, 9 November 2018. Courtesy: Berlin Gegen Nazis; photograph: F.Boillot

Like Angus, this year, Johnston served as a vivid reminder of the ever-changing air quality that surrounds us gays. Her essay, originally published in 1973, was reprinted last year by SIG Verlag, a publishing initiative founded by the artist Megan Francis Sullivan that distributes limited edition, print-only copies of new and old writing designed by Sara De Bondt. Johnston was an art critic, a prolific columnist for The Village Voice and a self-proclaimed revolutionary lesbian who stirred the shit at panel discussions about feminism in the 1970s. Her writing, partially collected under the title Lesbian Nation: The Feminist Solution (1973), has been out of print for years, and the SIG pamphlet is the initial push to relaunch Johnston for the 21st century.

It was also Sullivan who alerted me to a text published in the Oxford Art Journal in March by Jennifer Sichel, an academic based at the University of Chicago. In ‘Do you think Pop Art’s queer?’, Sichel discusses the recently recovered tape recording of the critic Gene Swenson’s seminal interview with Andy Warhol from 1963. Swenson’s interview was published in ARTnews as part of the series, ‘What is Pop Art?’. But the tape reveals that this was not the question that prompted Warhol’s now-famous lines: ‘I think everybody should like everybody’ and ‘I think everybody should be a machine’. That question was: ‘What do you say about homosexuals?’

‘I think that the whole interview on me should be just on homosexuality’, Warhol told Swenson, but such an interview never appeared. In fact, all of the context to those statements was edited out to establish the dominant reading of Warhol’s work – and, by extension, pop art and even postmodernism – as a flippant critique of capitalism and consumer culture.

Sichel’s paper invites us to view Warhol through the lens of sexuality, not necessarily the artist’s own, but sexuality as social and political structuring device and one of the most stubborn points of resistance to normativity in humans. His recently-restored epic film, The Chelsea Girls (1966), the subject of a new book edited by Geralyn Huxley and Greg Pierce and the focus of my attention for three hours at Moderna Museet in Stockholm this autumn, is a great entry-point to this aspect of Warhol’s work. Its slow slurredness lends it the temporal quality of a painting – duration as feeling. In a sequence of 30 minutes, the musician Eric Emerson sits bathed in pink light, leaking languorous nonsense from his acid trip. On the split screen, his fellow superstars seem to watch him, as he, too, watches himself. What David is to Florence and the renaissance, I will not hesitate to claim, Emerson’s wrecked and delicate portrait is to New York and the late 20th century: its own kind of fucked up perfection.

The exhibition at Moderna Museet, ‘Warhol 1968’, documented the artist’s first European institutional show, hosted by the very same museum in the titular year. Back then, one Swedish newspaper critic named Warhol an ‘intensive, disillusioned truth-seeker’, while another held that all that remains in his work after the total erosion of meaning is ‘superficiality’. Upstairs, at the time of my visit, was the quinquennial survey of Swedish art, ‘The Moderna Exhibition’, a sprawling display so thoroughly earnest it was hard to see the art for all its good intentions. In that context, the disillusioned superficiality of The Chelsea Girls gave me what I have always come to art for: showing, not telling; beauty as unravelling, not hypothesis.


From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks - 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年

Andy Warhol photographed at his exhibition‘Warhol 1968’, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1968. Photograph: Lasse Olsson/DN/SCANPIX 

In Sichel’s essay, Swenson and Warhol are presented as exemplar cases who deal with censorship in opposite ways. Warhol recorded everything – every interview, every conversation – and would not be edited again. It is well-known how Warhol hid in the detached proliferation of his (own) images. Swenson, on the other hand, became a martyr. For much of 1968 he would picket the MoMA with a sign bearing a question mark. Sichel writes:

His inscrutable displays of excessive emotion in response to a world that felt to him irredeemably cynical, complacent, and cruel rendered him lonely, and even landed him in the psychiatric ward of Bellevue Hospital on three occasions, rather than amid the humming whirl of film projectors at the Factory, where he could ‘misfit together’ with other queers.

When Swenson died in a car accident in 1969, at age of 35, Jill Johnston eulogized him in The Village Voice. It seems to me that, with this particular death, the cause lost a man to self-detonation. We see this all the time. What better proof that the violence was real all along than spectacular defeat?

On 9 November, Berlin observed the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, when Jewish-owned shops were vandalized, and synagogues set ablaze. Just a few days after my run-in with the neo-Nazis on Potsdamer Platz, the city’s decision to disallow another right-wing nationalist demo on this emblematic night was overturned by the court at the last minute. In the end, their gathering was small, I heard. Meanwhile, I stood and watched as ten thousand Antifas passed by my first-floor flat. ‘It’s so beautiful’, I texted a friend, ‘we should join them on the street’. Still, as the tug of war continued, I stayed by the window, looking.   

Main image: Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey, The Chelsea Girls, 1966, film poster. Courtesy: Wikimedia

Kristian Vistrup Madsen

Kristian Vistrup Madsen is an arts and culture writer based in Berlin, Germany.

Opinion /

Looking Back 2018
Looking Back
Kristian Vistrup Madsen
Patrick Angus
Andy Warhol
Queer Politics
Art & Politics

“同性恋”这个词并不一定意味着什么,但有时却意味着什么。当它所暗示的差异成为争论的目标或者成为特别庆祝的原因时,它就变得意义重大。我很幸运,很少遇到争执,因此,也没什么理由庆祝。同性恋是我呼吸的空气:完全随便。帕特里克·安格斯,1992年去世,享年38岁。今年早些时候,当他们从上世纪80年代的自画像中凝视斯图加特博物馆时,他的眼睛里充满了沉思,但毫无疑问是警惕的。安格斯的大约200件作品组成了展览:“私人展览”,这是美国画家在欧洲的第一次主要调查。安格斯记录下了一个不再存在的场景;人们,包括他自己,在离开30年后,仍然感觉赤裸裸:纽约的同性恋桑拿和脱衣舞俱乐部,室内明亮的朋友和情人,郊区的风景,都通过他的笔触变成了色彩斑斓的民主领域。他的照片远非被身份所淹没,如果说这种东西真的存在的话,那他的照片里还有些特别的同性恋。没有,当然没有“同性恋”的表情,除了眼睛里的表情:安格斯,在那张自画像里,敏感,严肃,警惕。知道自己的和平取决于任何时候可能被撤销的许可的人。1189738_1_no.article._img_03815953.jpg From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks - 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年 Patrick Angus,自画像,画布上的油。礼貌:本希姆博物馆。11月,我被困在柏林波茨坦广场(Potsdamer Platz)的一个十字路口中间,一个新纳粹示威者从我身边经过。突然一片混乱。人们行动不定,到处都是警察:游行的边界是多孔的。在柏林的街道上,我从来没有感到不安全,无论我多么晚一个小时,也不管我在一个多么奇怪的地方会发现自己。我从来不用逃跑。我成年以后从来没有惊慌失措地打电话给我爸爸。发生什么事了?他问,“当我走出慌乱,经过彼得·艾森曼的大屠杀纪念碑,穿过勃兰登堡门,来到安特登·林登的Nivea旗舰店,最后,回到家,我问自己这个问题:到底发生了什么?”回顾这一事件,我突然想到,最终引人注目的不是它发生了,也不是示威者把星条旗插在他们的旗帜上,而是它严重地影响了我。这是我第一次遇到一种即将变得司空见惯的事情。的确,在其他地方,对于其他人来说,情况已经变得如此。9月,古怪的艺术家和活动家扎克·科斯托普洛斯在雅典被谋杀,之后被描述为私刑。10月,在巴西,贾尔·博尔索纳罗当选为总统。圣保罗同性恋自豪游行的创始人贝托·德·耶稣告诉《卫报》:“这就好像地狱之门已经打开——好像狩猎季节已经来临。”我并不是说我们都应该害怕。我只是说我不应该感到惊讶。吉尔·约翰斯顿在她的文章《一个举止优雅的被操纵的人》(1973)中回忆道,20世纪50年代来到纽约后,她的“女同性恋意识”开始显现,“作为一种被短暂的暴力打断的暴力活动”:强奸、秘密堕胎、猖獗的厌恶。我幸免于难,一直认为这种想法是当今社会的一个小奇迹。“我本应该为生存赢得一颗淡紫色的心”,她用她那无情、尖刻、几乎不加标点的散文写道。“当我结束的时候,我已经经历了整个纽约[原文如此]都快要关进监狱了。”2018年11月9日,克里斯蒂尔纳赫特80周年纪念日,向右翼极端分子游行示威的10.jpg From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks - 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年。礼貌:柏林·格根·纳粹;照片:F·博洛特,和安格斯一样,今年,约翰斯顿生动地提醒了我们同性恋者周围不断变化的空气质量。她的文章原本发表于1973年,去年由艺术家梅根·弗朗西斯·沙利文创办的出版社SIG Verlag转载,发行了萨拉·德·邦特设计的限量版、纯印刷版的新旧作品。约翰斯顿是一位艺术评论家,《乡村之声》多产的专栏作家,自称是革命女同性恋,她在上世纪70年代关于女权主义的小组讨论会上掀起了轩然大波。推动约翰斯顿重启21世纪。也是沙利文提醒我注意三月份牛津艺术期刊上刊登的一篇由芝加哥大学学者珍妮弗·西歇尔撰写的文章。在《你认为流行艺术很奇怪吗?西歇尔讨论了评论家吉恩·斯文森从1963年开始对安迪·沃霍尔进行开创性采访的最近恢复的录音带。斯文森的采访发表在ARTnews上,作为系列的一部分,“什么是流行艺术?”'.但录像带显示,这并不是促使沃霍尔提出现在著名的台词的问题:“我认为每个人都应该喜欢每个人”和“我认为每个人都应该是一台机器”。那个问题是:“你怎么看待同性恋?”沃霍尔对斯文森说:“我认为整个面试都应该针对同性恋,但这样的面试从来没有出现过。”事实上,所有这些声明的背景都被删掉了,以建立对沃霍尔作品的主导性阅读——延伸来说,是波普艺术,甚至后现代主义——作为对资本主义和消费文化的轻率批评。Sichel的论文邀请我们从性的角度来观察沃霍尔,不一定是艺术家自己的,而是把性作为社会和政治结构的装置,是人类抵制规范性最顽固的一点。他最近复原的史诗电影《切尔西女孩》(1966),是杰拉琳·赫胥黎和格雷格·皮尔斯编辑的一本新书的主题,也是我今年秋天在斯德哥尔摩摩德纳博物馆三小时关注的焦点,是沃霍尔作品这一方面的一个很好的切入点。它缓慢的泥泞赋予它绘画的时间性——持续时间的感觉。30分钟后,音乐家埃里克·爱默生沐浴在粉红色的灯光下,从酸痛的旅行中泄露了疲倦的胡言乱语。在分开的屏幕上,他的超级明星伙伴们似乎在看着他,他也在看着自己。大卫对佛罗伦萨和文艺复兴的意义,我毫不犹豫地宣称,爱默生残缺而精致的肖像画是对纽约和20世纪末期的:它自己的完美。摩德纳博物馆的展览“沃霍尔1968”记录了这位艺术家的第一次欧洲机构展览。当时,一位瑞典报纸评论家称沃霍尔为“精辟、幻想破灭的真相探寻者”,而另一位评论家则认为,在意义完全消失之后,他作品中剩下的只是“肤浅”。在楼上,我参观的时候,对瑞典艺术进行了五年一度的调查,“现代艺术展览”,这是一次规模庞大的展览,展品非常认真,很难看清它的全部好意。在这种背景下,《切尔西女孩》的幻灭的肤浅给了我一直以来的艺术追求:展示,而不是诉说;美是解开,不是假设。6.jpg From Well-Behaved to Fucked-Up: the Year in Gay Flashbacks - 从行为端正到搞砸:同性恋闪回之年安迪·沃霍尔,1968年在斯德哥尔摩现代美术馆举办的“沃霍尔1968”展览会上拍照。照片:Lasse Olsson/DN/SCANPIX在Sichel的文章中,Swenson和Warhol被作为以相反的方式处理审查的范例。沃霍尔记录了一切——每一次采访,每一次谈话——不会再被编辑了。众所周知,沃霍尔是如何隐藏在他(自己)形象的分离扩散中的。另一方面,斯文森成了殉道者。1968年的大部分时间里,他都会用带有问号的牌子来检查国防部。西歇尔写道:面对这个对他来说无可救药的愤世嫉俗、自满和残酷的世界,他那难以捉摸的过度情绪表现使他感到孤独,甚至三次把他送进了贝尔维尤医院的精神病房,而不是送进工厂里嗡嗡作响的电影放映机里,在那里他可能“不适合”。以太,以太。1969年,35岁的斯文森死于车祸,吉尔·约翰斯顿在《乡村之声》中歌颂了他。在我看来,由于这种特殊的死亡,导致一个人自爆。我们一直看到这一点。还有什么比惨败更能证明暴力始终是真实的呢?11月9日,柏林庆祝了克里斯塔尔纳赫特建国80周年,当时犹太人拥有的商店遭到破坏,犹太教堂被点燃。就在我在波茨坦广场与新纳粹分子发生争执几天后,这个象征性的夜晚,该市禁止另一次右翼民族主义示威游行的决定在最后一刻被法院推翻。我听说,最后他们的聚会很小。与此同时,我站着看着一万辆安提法斯从我的一楼公寓经过。“太美了,”我发短信给一个朋友,“我们应该在街上加入他们。”尽管如此,随着拔河比赛的继续,我还是站在窗边,看着。《主角:安迪·沃霍尔和保罗·莫里西》,《切尔西女孩》,1966年,电影海报。礼貌:Wikimedia.Kristian Vistrup Madsen.Kristian Vistrup Madsen是驻德国柏林的艺术和文化作家。观点/回首2018年


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