Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings / Leo Bersani: Gay Betrayals
Afterall, 2022, Softcover, 102 pages, 21 × 15 cm
In 1997, during a symposium at Centre Pompidou, Leo Bersani presented a prescient critique of the assimilative tendencies that made ‘gays melt into the very culture they like to think of themselves as undermining.’ Mired in micropolitics, for Bersani, queer activism had relinquished the radical task of reconfiguring the horizon of the possible. Later published as ‘Gay Betrayals’, Bersani’s intervention champions a truly disruptive vision of homosexuality, one that betrays the relational, identitarian and communitarian foundations of bourgeois heterosexual respectability through ‘antimonogamous promiscuity’.
Building on extensive artistic research into the politics of queer spaces and culture some 20 years later, artist duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings revisit Bersani’s polemic with a response in three acts. Through a kaleidoscopic array of drawings, preparatory sketches and egg tempera paintings, a narrative of everyday (homo)sociality comes into view. A series of statuesque figures are caught as they feel the outlines of existing power structures, try out new strategies of inclusivity and, ultimately, wrestle with the blurred lineaments of identity and community.