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Back to Earth Live Presents Queer Earth and Liquid Matters

Hosted at Stone Nest

The two-day festival brings together artists, writers, filmmakers, sound and architecture practitioners to explore decolonial and queer ecologies across Saturday 16 July and Sunday 17 July 2022
 Serpentine’s exploration into queer ecology started in 2021 with podcast Queer Currents, Serpentine’s most popular audio release to date 
 Stone Nest, 136 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5EZ
Saturday 16 July, 2 – 8pm, and Sunday 17 July 2022, 11am – 6pm

This summer, as part of Back to Earth, Serpentine presents Queer Earth and Liquid Matters in collaboration with Stone Nest and QUEERCIRCLE. Hosted at Stone Nest on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July 2022, the festival will be a two-day festival exploring transformation, queerness, the natural, the unnatural and the wild, as well as decolonial, Indigenous and submerged perspectives on the climate crisis.

Seba Calfuqueo, Tray Tray Ko, video, 6’13, 2022, film still, photo by: Sebastian Melo.

Queer Earth and Liquid Matters is curated by Jack Halberstam, Macarena Gómez-Barris and Kostas Stasinopoulos. The programme will feature talks, performances, film and more from a stellar list of participants including Xavi Aguirre, Seba Calfuqueo, Adham Faramawy, Ash Fure, Macarena Gómez-Barris, Jacob V Joyce and Rudy Loewe, Jack Halberstam, Victoria Hunt, Bhanu Kapil, Juan Francisco Salazar, P. Staff, Bones Tan Jones, and multidisciplinary dance theatre company Wringing Metamorphosis.

This live programme is part of a summer programme of activations for Back to Earth, Serpentine’s long-term programme responding to the climate crisis with an exhibition on view at Serpentine North from 22 June – 18 September 2022.

Kostas Stasinopoulos, Associate Curator, Live Programmes at Serpentine, said:“We are thrilled to present Queer Earth and Liquid Matters, an ambitious programme curated with a sense of responsibility and care for our current moment. The programme is dedicated to connecting and relating to each other, and explores ways of being that have often been overshadowed in Western environmental discourse. It brings together different voices and experiences of the climate emergency from around the world, in the hope of creating more connections in the present and inspiring new ways of coming together in the future. I am so grateful to co-curators Macarena Gómez-Barris and Jack Halberstam for their dedication to this programme, to all the artists for accepting our invitation to participate and to our partners, Stone Nest and Queercircle, for embracing the ideas with a unique sense of collaboration”.

Jack Halberstam, Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University, said: “As we wait anxiously for the next catastrophe, the next failed solution, the next natural and unnatural disaster, we spend time together thinking with the queer earth and its non-human materials. We contemplate liquid matters not to find ways out of the impending disaster but to learn how to live with it and through it and, in the process, to reconcile to ruination”.

By earth, sea and air we came, video, 18 minutes, Adham Faramawy, 2021 .

Macarena Gómez-Barris, Scholar and Writer said: “This promises to be an exciting two-day event that will generate more ways to challenge how we understand the normative framework of Anthropocene politics. Through forms of experimentation, the artists, scholars, visual thinkers, performers, and activists we’ve invited will bring forward powerful images, cultural memories, and imaginations of the queer and decolonise otherwise”.

Highlighting voices and experiences of the climate emergency, Queer Earth and Liquid Matters aims to unearth the binaries of Western knowledge often encountered in the environmental discourse. More specifically, the programme will shed light on land and water struggles, foregrounding queer and trans Indigenous embodiment in the Global South and around the world. It will explore apocalyptic visions and experiences and amplify Indigenous refusal and outrage at the consequences of extractive capitalism.

Queer Earth and Liquid Matters expands Serpentine’s exploration into queer ecology which started in 2021 with Queer Currents, a podcast launched for artists and thinkers to untangle the connections between queer theory, environmental activism, and climate justice. Together with guests Ama Josephine Budge, Macarena Gómez-Barris and Jack Halberstam, podcast hosts Sin Wai Kin and Kostas Stasinopoulos asked “where does wildness live?” and collectively explored questions of desire, pleasure, queer resistance and affinity within apocalyptic world making.

Queer Earth and Liquid Matters highlights:

Saturday 16 July, 2 – 8pm, at Stone Nest

By earth, sea and air we came, video, 18 minutes, Adham Faramawy, 2021.

Bones Tan Jones will present an operatic performance inspired by Glaucus atlanticus, the hermaphroditic blue sea dragons that float on oceanic currents, and their changing lives in the face of rising sea temperatures.

Macarena Gómez-Barris will present Sur in Tension. This talk will begin with Ursula Le Guin’s short story Sur, which rewrites the chronicles of male colonial exploration in the Global South. While Le Guin inverts gender tropes, Sur retains a focus on normative ways of describing geography, invoking the colonial gaze, and erasing Indigenous presences and absences in the Deep South. Gómez-Barris will focus on decolonising modes of thinking through queer South/South Indigenous relations. She will describe art and cultural practices that derange Western logics of seafaring, forms of being, and planetary dystopia. Gómez-Barris will turn to the rivers, ice, fluidity and sea edges as South/South cosmologies, analysing queer Indigenous Mapuche and Maori performance art.

Juan Fransciso Salazar will present Nightfall on Gaia, a speculative documentary that depicts the lives and visions of human communities living transiently in the Antarctic Peninsula. Grounded in the artist’s ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Antarctica between 2011 and 2014, the film will be an experimental meditation on the future of the Antarctic as a newly extreme frontier for human habitation, exposing the complexities of a fragile planet at the verge of ecological collapse, our relationship to the ice and the uncertain future of the region.

Seba Calfuqueo will approach the vision and sound of a waterfall through the body in a newly commissioned performance, Flowing like waterfalls. Using kaskawillas, a Mapuche instrument made of bronze, Calfuqueo will imitate the sound of falling water. The performance will draw on the Mapuche story of Copihue and Llancalahuen, two native plants that grew intertwined near humid areas of the native forest. Narrated as incarnations of Mapuche bodies killed by the colonial process, these plants embody resistance. Flowing like waterfalls will approach the power of water’s fluidity as a means to explore  the body, gender, sexuality and the relationship between water and life, forests and ecosystems.

Sunday 17 July, 11am – 6pm, at Stone Nest

The heart wants what the heart wants, video, 21 minutes, Adham Faramawy, 2021.

A performance and reading by poet and writer Bhanu Kapil in collaboration with multidisciplinary dance theatre company Wringing Metamorphosis.

Hans Ulrich Obrist in conversation with artists Seba Calfuqueo and Adham Faramawy.

Jack Halberstam will present Unworldling, a talk examining experiments in art, literature and architecture unbuilding and bewildering rather than developing and enlightening. Unworldling will explore a different language for engaging with nature – one that recognises that what is wild stands alone from human desires to classify and contain. The wild, almost by definition, is what lies beyond, outside and around the human. It cannot become part of the human, nor can it be captured by the human, but it can be registered as present through a series of aesthetic, political and scientific gestures that confirm its presence. Wildness, in this talk, and by extension, nature, inheres to entropy, gravity, the random, the accidental, the unpredictable, the violent and the uncertain.

Xavi L. Aguirre will present Acid Plumbing, a visualization of a conversation between P. Staff and Xavi L. Aguirre. A slow immersion into the 3-Dimensionalized installations of the 2019 exhibition ‘On Venus’ by P. Staff at Serpentine North and ‘someparts x hive rise’ by Aguirre at Berghain Club. In it, they exchange voice notes touching on themes of the queer body and its architectural ecology, piss and plumbing, and permeability and building coatings. 

Jack Halberstam in conversation with architectural designer Xavi Aguirre.

Ash Fure will present Interior Listening Protocol, a participatory listening score developed to recuperate liveness and spatially dynamic, embodied listening back into our increasingly technology-saturated moment.

Adham Faramawy will present Daughters of the River, a new performance that includes dance, sound and spoken word. Drawing on history, mythology and fiction, Faramawy will tell stories of the romances and toxicities of rivers and waterways.

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