STROLL IN BUNDSCHUH
Like an heavy duty boot floating on the blue-green moiré banner(1) of their website, the phrase “Faggotry as it is today” only appears when you click on the top right, on a discreet question mark enclosed in a cryptic mauve bubble. This confidential declaration, pre-existing the question, announces at once a thematic programme, but also the affirmation of a unique materiality and temporality. Buenos Tiempos Int. is an online exhibition space, created in 2014, whose founders, Marnie Slater and Alberto Garcia Del Castillo, live in Brussels, but the body and voice of the project is subject to various displacements and proliferations.
In this short affirmation, the “as it is today” assumes as much importance, in my view, as the term “faggotry”, an outmoded term with varied semantic flavours.(2) Here, the queer identity of this space of representation and production joins forces with the temporality of a given time, “today”, but beyond that, of that “now” of the online exhibition. “As it is today” acts like a window onto a fluctuating field of activities.
At any rate, this is what part of the website suggests, which consists of occasionally presenting the work of an artist, writer, or filmmaker, for varying lengths of time, then archiving it, at the end of this period, as a name, a title, and a date, without any other visual artefact. However, for one month, a painted message by Sam Lipp floated on the homepage, drawings and photos by Vava Dudu, a film by Little Egypt, a documentary by Arthur Bueno, or tests and a video by Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson. One will replace the other. All will disappear. This effect of lack, to paraphrase Derrida, displays the mark of the absence of a presence, of a continually absent present, of an original lack that seems to be the prerequisite of thought and experience. In its association with queerness, the question of otherness in general, this effect takes on its full meaning.
While no displacement is necessary of the spectator’s body in this “here and now” of the exhibition, the body of the project, on the other hand, is likely to move, express itself, produce content, and submit itself to various transformations.
It is one of the other parts of the site that presents the productions of Buenos Tiempos, Int. To date, we find listed there: The Ages of Beatrix Ruf: A History of Power Transvestism (Part I & II) (2014 and 2016), A Walk with Dorothée Dupuis and Jessica Gysel Around the Chinese Pavilion and the Japanese Tower in Brussels (2015), Strictly Ballroom and Total Eclipse (2017). These video arrangements, theatre constructions, or read and sung performances, involve a different number of protagonists each time, all engaged in thinking and articulating today’s complex possibilities of sex and gender.
It is through the restitution of one of these productions at La Box, the Bourges art school’s gallery, as part of a weekly programme of film screenings, performances, talks, and workshops, grouped under the title Flâneuses?, that Aurélia Defrance decided to present the work of Buenos Tiempos, Int. in 2017. “Together, we chose ‘Total Eclipse’, on the one hand because it had only been presented once, for the launch of an issue of the magazine Girls Like Us, but mainly because of the inclusion of the figure of the dandy, which had so far been absent from the ‘Total Eclipse’ programme at that time, bringing together the ‘female-dandy’ of Lisa Robertson’s text, a Brussels-based adventure by the Rimbaud-Verlaine duo, and a few wardrobe ideas from Bill Cunningham. The posture and the relationship of each individual to the street is particularly interesting, and what I find powerful is that you can talk and think about menopause (or the reproductive organs as determining for women’s status) and the imperative of hiding oneself for a homosexual couple together, via the figure of the dandy and its impertinence, its flamboyancy.” Aurélia added: “And then there is also the presence and energy of Marnie, Alberto, Clare, and Joëlle!(3) They brought a lot to it.”
The third part of the website brings together the various strategies of public interventions in the Buenos Tiempos Int. exhibition space as a local and international collective, aiming to stimulate the orientation of gender, race, and class of today’s contemporary art aesthetic, one night, on a rooftop or in the trunk of a Porsche.
Getting back to our earlier query, what comes before any other question, and above all any question of Being, which a number of philosophies are so fond of, and in other words, in this case, what precedes the question of the mauve bubble? The political affirmation of absence emerges, within this virtual address and for duration of the window that it presents, closely followed, through an eclipsing effect, by the question of the creation of desire.
- I’m alluding here to the Bundschuh, those peasants rebellions, whose emblem wast a heavy ankle boot, clothing detail that the German peasants of the late 15th century chose as a symbol of their forbidden anger and asked artists, associated at the time with the intellectual and religious elite, to paint on blue silk banners, at the great risk of all involved. See the excellent Peintres et vilains by Maurice Pianzola, published by Les presses du réel in 1993, which retraces the adventure of this perilous association, regenerative of the sacred art, contaminated by revolt, a history of the power of images, of the journeys of ideas, bits of fabric, and trivial accessories.
- For these meanings and further information, see the interview published in Crash by Dorothée Dupuis. http://www.crash.fr/an-interview-with-marnie-slater-and-alberto-garcia-del-castillo-founders-of-buenos-tiempos-int/
- Joëlle Bacchetta (reading) and Clare Noonan (singing).