This weekend, Joan Los Angeles presents an online conversation with CIRCUS OF BOOKS director Rachel Mason and producers Cynthia Childs, Kathryn Robson, and Rhianon Jones, moderated by Evan Moffitt.
For over thirty-five years, the gay porn shop Circus of Books served as an epicenter for LGBT life and culture in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to many in the community it served, the store was cultivated and cared for by its owners, Karen and Barry Mason—a straight couple with three children. The documentary CIRCUS OF BOOKS is an intimate portrait of the Masons and their journey to become one of the biggest distributors of hardcore gay porn in the United States. Their story unfolds through the lens of their daughter, filmmaker and artist, Rachel Mason.
We do not feel represented by our governments and do not agree with decisions taken in our name. We witness European nations building giant walls and fences around borders that already didn’t seem useful in the first place, rejecting rescue ships at the harbors. Philosopher Achille Mbembe speaks of the “Society of Enmity.” Queer scholar José Esteban Munoz calls the here and now a “prison house.” People stop using gender neutral language and move from their polyamorous groups into traditional families. Hate speech not only seems acceptable, but becomes a motor of aggressively arresting us into what is considered a normal life. Do you sometimes feel as if you are massively being forced to move backwards?
We have, of course, no recipe. But after taking a deep breath we are up for turning disadvantage into a tool: Let’s collectively move backwards…
Women of the Kurdish guerrillas wore their shoes the wrong way round to walk from one place in the snowy mountains to the other. This tactic saved their lives. It seems as if you are walking backwards, but actually you are walking forwards. Or the other way around.
Let’s take this story as a starting point for the project: Can we use the tactical ambivalence of this movement as a means of coming together, re-organizing our desires, and finding ways of exercising freedoms? Can its feigned backwardness even fight the notion of progress’ inevitability?
We will move backwards and think about the ways in which we wish to live with loved but also unloved others. We will move backwards, because strange encounters might be a pleasant starting point for something unforeseen to happen. — Renate and Pauline
This weekend, Joan presents the United States premiere of Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz’ 2019 Venice Biennale video installation MOVING BACKWARDS.
The Venice iteration in the Swiss Pavilion—curated by Charlotte Laubard—incarnated a nightclub environment, and the opening weekend in Los Angeles will feature a live performance by Marbles Jumbo Radio.
At Tufts, outside Boston, the exhibition HARRY DODGE—WORKS OF LOVE brings together sculptures, drawings, and videos that “revel as much in theoretical ideas about a post-human future as they do in the ecstasy of the workaday present.”*
This week join Dodge and Amy Sillman in a public conversation for the annual BeckwithLecture at the Museum of Fine Arts.
. HARRY DODGE—WORKS OF LOVE is an expanded version of Dodge’s 2018 show at Joan, Los Angeles.
From top: Harry Dodge, Emergency Weapon #26; Harry Dodge, Emergency Weapon #21; Harry Dodge, Works of Love installation view, Joan, Los Angeles, 2018. Photograph by Paul Salveson. Images courtesy the artist.