about queeristics

is this a boy or a girl?
it's a drawing.

the dialogue that sparked this project

I was drawing a picture story in one of my classes art school. My classmates liked it a lot: “Oh wow, that's so cool!” Then one of them pointed at one of my characters and said: “But is this a boy or a girl?” I looked at them and didn’t see their point – it seemed so obvious to me: “It’s a drawing!"

How strange: my drawn figures had to deal with the same question I used to be asked when I had short hair and a “boyish closet”. Why was it so important to present an unequivocal image – in real life in drawings?

My undergraduate studies in illustration had a focus on drawing practice. In the context of a school for applied arts, backing one’s work with conceptual or theoretical reflection was rarely asked for. I always missed some heavy thinking and independently implemented a theoretical framework by attending academic lectures and by reading queer theory, sociology and philosophy, cultural studies and visual culture.

I keep thinking about how on the one hand this theory input flows back into my drawings and on the other hand how my drawings can be the basis for theoretical reflection about images. I developed a conceptual approach to drawing and explored the possibilities of drawing as queer visual activism.

Since images do not merely represent reality but constitute realities too, attempting to understand, rework, change, diversify and add to the pictures that create and sustain a way of “seeing” and “living” is a political concern. If there was at least a greater choice of images to comply with, what a relief that would be.

In the meantime I took my interest in theory seriously and spent two years at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago to study Visual and Critical Studies. My application to the school and for the Fulbright grant I received was based on queeristics as a research project in which drawing an theory intersect. During my M.A. studies I got the chance to deepen my understanding of theoretical concepts and examine more closely some of the questions that were at the beginning of this project.

For two semesters now, I have been teaching at the school where the above mentioned dialog took place. I have been lucky to be able to go back to my old school and teach the theory class I would have love to take while I was still a student there. I feel fortunate to be able to spark the interest for theory in others.