Dr. Joseph Mercier - Desperate Gestures

In Progress: Performance Project and Unpublished Paper 

This research is an intervention into discourses of presence, questioning what a queer methodology might offer to models of conceptualising presence.  I approach queerness as a discursive process of identifactory assemblages and interactions: the queer subject is assembled in resistance to or because of  normative and hegemonic process of identity, often in ways that falter and slip, that are messy and disorganised, or fail to materialise into forms that are easily recognised and read from dominant perspectives. Working from this proposition of queerness, my research is animated by the following questions:  What is the specific quality of queer or minoritarian presence as distinct from the forms of presence occupied by majoritarian subjects?   What might it mean to think of presence queerly?  And, perhaps more fundamentally, how does the presence of the queer, queer presence?

The queer figure, who must always navigated otherness and exclusion, comes to presence in two inverse ways, depending on the conditions and contexts of that presentness.  In one way, the queer person, is present through difference, absence or trace in the way the queer figure is not able or willing to fully appear in the present moment.  Conversely, they might be overly visible, exposed, present in a way that makes it impossible to disappear into the relative safety of normativity.   The contradiction of queer presence, then, is that the queer figure, because of and depending on, the quality and/or performance of their queerness, will be overly present or not present enough.  This research proceeds from this paradox and hypothesises that, for the queer subject, any attempt to be present in a recognisable hegemonic form of presentness will be incomplete, excessive or politically compromised.  Therefore, I characterise any attempt by the queer figure to be present as something of a ‘desperate gesture’ and this is the central metaphor I will use to build a conceptual and applied model of queer presence.  This research proposes a series of desperate gestures: conceptual or philosophical, social or political, and physical, choreographic, gestures, that the queer figure might make in an attempt to be present.