5/24/11

STYLE ICON: CALLOUTQUEEN

So obviously I write this blog and also have a Tumblr. I'm a total late-adopter to Tumblr and am pretty bad at it. I feel like a voyeur, mostly. I watch a lot. I don't know how I heard of this person, but some months ago I started following the Tumblr page CalloutQueen who is aka the Chicago-based artist Mark Aguhar.


Femme Realness Queen

I am a total fanboy for his work. He makes sculptures and drawings and takes photos and makes performances. And he utilizes the internet in a really interesting way. I think maybe the idea of "Internet Art" is possibly difficult or something, but I think something approaching that might work here, too.


M4M

Here is his Artist's Statement: "Mark Aguhar’s work is a continuous exploration of queer expression and what it means to have grown up gay on the internet. Aguhar collects visual artifacts from queer online communities and uses them in his work to define and redefine who he is and what his body is. Aguhar works primarily in drawing, making bluntly gay works that combine porn, fashion, textile patterns, optical effects, trans identities, and queer jokes. He does not intend to make teaching work, or art to represent the entirety of the LGBTIQA community, he just wants to express his own realness."

One of the things that I find really exciting about his work is that it makes me self-conscious, in a way. It makes me aware of my viewership. His work makes me feel like I am paying attention. I don't want to try to presume an intent or anything, so I will just talk about my total adoration.

I read his Tumblr every day. A lot of times, I feel really overwhelmed by the internet. There's a certain tone that's achieved-- maybe it's just the people who I follow, maybe it's a cultural thing among queer people or something-- sometimes we get kind of weird. I don't know a nice way to describe it. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing a lot of complaining. I'm not exempting myself at all here, I'm just saying that there's a difference between complaint and criticality. Criticality is one of his often-used words.

My point here is that out in the noise of the internet, when I read his writing I feel like he cuts through it. He's found a way to speak and also speak about speaking, somehow. It's like he's talking through a megaphone or something. His slogans, slurs, and calls to arms make me feel like this is the real benefit of our technological culture, that eventually people will be genius enough to be able to utilize the emerging systems of information to find and explore new ways of communicating.

It makes me think that Chicago must be a really cool place. And it makes me wish I knew more artists like him. I keep returning to his writing, because every time I see it I nod. Yep. Yes. Yeah. I'd even hazard a Right-on.

EXAMPLE:
LITANIES TO MY HEAVENLY BROWN BODY

FUCK YOUR WHITENESS
FUCK YOUR BEAUTY
FUCK YOUR CHEST HAIR
FUCK YOUR BEARD
FUCK YOUR PRIVILEGE
FUCK THAT YOU AREN’T MADE TO FEEL SHAME ALWAYS
FUCK YOUR THINNESS
FUCK YOUR MUSCLES
FUCK YOUR ATTRACTIVE FATNESS
FUCK YOUR SHAMING ME FOR NOTHING
FUCK YOUR ACCUSATIONS THAT I PRODUCE SHAME
FUCK YOUR READING ME AS A CARICATURE
FUCK YOUR DESTRUCTION OF MY PERSONHOOD
FUCK YOUR MARGINALIZATION OF MY IDENTITY
FUCK YOUR JUDGING ME FOR SELF CARE
FUCK YOUR ABILITY TO BE ASSERTIVE
FUCK YOUR LACK OF SOCIALIZATION TO BE A SUBMISSIVE
FUCK YOUR ASKING ME TO PRODUCE SAFETY FOR YOU AND NOT MYSELF
FUCK THE AMOUNT OF EFFORT I EXERT TO GET LESS THAN ENOUGH CONSIDERATION
FUCK THAT THE AMOUNT OF SPACE I TAKE UP IN THE WORLD IS CONSTANTLY QUESTIONED
FUCK THAT PEOPLE THINK I’M A SLUT
FUCK THAT YOU CAN DEMAND ATTENTION
FUCK THAT I’M WILLING TO GIVE YOU WHAT I CAN’T HAVE
FUCK THAT YOUR VALUES AND YOUR ACTIONS NEVER MATCH UP WHEN IT COMES TO ME
FUCK THAT I CAN’T EXPECT ANYTHING FROM ANYONE
FUCK THAT THE AMOUNT OF WORK I PUT INTO THE BEAUTY OF MY INTELLECT AND MY TALENT IS STILL NEVER ENOUGH
AMEN
The way he talks about power and identity is really inspiring to me. I've often seen him talk about self-care, and I think he makes a really interesting point. The world and culture we live in absolutely privileges certain identities, and if you are not of those identities (and don't directly participate in maintaining these systems of privilege and oppression) then you are continually punished. So to privilege identities which are not the mass-cultural norm is a radical act.

But that's not the same as saying, for example, that loving yourself is radical and thinking you're awesome is political. There's, again, a difference. And the difference is one of consciousness, I think. CalloutQueen is able to reveal the "radical possibilities of pleasure, babe" (this is a maybe unfair quote to use here). What he's doing is showing how to do this radical self-care the right way, and explicitly asking about who gets to and who has to do it. I don't know if I can adequately convey how cool and brilliant I think this is.




Girl Gangs and Role-Playing Games





His indictment of masculinity and maleness is also really exciting and inspiring to me. For a long time I had this kind of sticky idea that men can't be feminists, because that would mean us necessarily co-opting feminism somehow, some aspect of female identity. And that to do so would be a function of male privilege. Like, I thought that if men could identify as feminists, then pretty soon you would be able to go to some fucking University or something and head Professor of the Feminist Studies Department would be some shriveled old white Freud-looking male feminist.

But Mark's work makes me feel differently. He is pretty explicit and open about man-hate. You know what? So am I. I think it's okay to have this discussion, and I think it's definitely okay for this discussion to include socially-deemed "male" persons. I think there's real power in explicit language, and in making clear the (radical?) notion that male privilege is entirely a social construct. It doesn't have to be this way. It's a kind of optimism, in a way, and I really like it a lot.


Little Girl Type


still from performance Realness
My work is about visibility. My work is about the fact that I’m a genderqueer person of color fat femme fag feminist and I don’t really know what to do with that identity in this world.

It’s that thing where you grew up learning to hate every aspect of yourself and unlearning all that misery is really hard to do.

It’s that thing where you kind of regret everything you’ve ever done because it’s so complicit with white hegemony.

It’s that thing where you realize that your own attempts at passive aggressive manipulation and power don’t stand a chance against the structural forms of DOMINATION against your body.

It’s that thing where the only way to cope with the reality of your situation is to pretend it doesn’t exist; because flippancy is a privilege you don’t own but you’re going to pretend you do anyway.
Yes. Gosh, I wish I could have seen this performance!

Anyway. I think everyone should follow him: CALLOUT QUEEN.

3 comments:

gp said...

Feminism = manhate? Please tell me you're being sarcastic. This is exactly what rush limbaugh and all the other right-wing assholes claim all the time. For that reason alone, it can't possibly be true.

Mark Aguhar said...

Thanks so much Max!

And to gp, while I don't think Feminism and manhate are the same thing, I also have no problem with misandry.

gp said...

Well, i have a problem with misandry. Equally so with misogyny, racism, homophobia, and pretty much all the other forms of bigotry. Bigotry seems to me a way to put each individual in some preconceived box even though you know absolutely nothing about that particular human being.