From the Logic of the Lure to the Force of the Erotic: Cruising a Personal AIDS Video Archive From a Curatorial Perspective

Conceived from the outset as interconnected pieces—entwining the theoretical and personal dimensions of the queer subject in resistance to a mainstream academic methodological imperative— the chapters comprising the thesis examine, from a Western perspective, the project undertaken by artists, filmmakers, writers, and academics to force HIV/AIDS into the realm of representation. Ultimately, the thesis argues for the unrepresentability of HIV/AIDS and for the failure of the logics of representation arising from the advent of AIDS to “speak” the unspeakable.

Through the lens of John Paul Ricco’s “attraction of the lure” and William Haver’s “erotic of a queer poiesis,” to which the title alludes, the thesis pays tribute to the interrelationship between identity formation and representation. Its structure directly cites Jacques Derrida’s “unreadable” book Glas, as a means to symbolically express the promiscuity of the methodology by which the research is being conducted. The thesis unfolds against the presence of an absence, a certain ghost or spectre that has permeated the research, reminiscent of Roland Barthes’s ideas around the “studium” and the “punctum”: a decade of experimental and independent AIDS moving images that I have metaphorically cruised as an experiment in building alternative knowledge about HIV/AIDS.

In its incessant entanglement of the personal with the theoretical, the promiscuous methodology of the thesis, when applied to the curatorial field, advances the following questions: Can cruising and the queer experience of sexual promiscuity be used as a research method? Can the curatorial be a place to perform promiscuity as a way to escape the normalising discourse perpetuated by society and problematise the trajectories imposed by art history? Ultimately, a promiscuous curatorial methodology seeks to create the conditions for multiple subjectivities to emerge and co-exist; in other words, for being in common with no need to strictly embrace any condition of belonging.

Tommaso Speretta (he/him) is an independent curator, writer and editor. He has curated projects independently as well as worked for art institutions such as the Venice Art and Architecture Biennale, The Office for Contemporary Art Norway and the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. Tommaso is the author of the book “REBELS REBEL. AIDS, Art and Activism in New York, 1979–1989” (Ghent: MER. Paper Kunsthalle, 2014). His most recent exhibitions include “Every Moment Counts: AIDS and Its Feeling” at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo, and “I Am/We Are” at the Contemporary Art Museum in Stavanger, Norway.

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Dorothee Richter, Prof. Alun Rowlands