Looking After the Future: On Queer and Decolonial Temporalities

Ausgabe #8
November 2019
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A Podcast Installation. With Kara Keeling.

We live in strange times: on the one hand—due to climate change and right-wing politics—the apocalypse seems to be closer than ever. On the other hand, we can see that transhumanists work hard to design a technologically advanced future. Since both imaginations can be understood as prolongations of white Western heteronormative thought, it is time to be untimely and to question straight time (reproduction, linear time) as well as the temporal structures of neocolonialism (progress, acceleration). But what really are the alternatives to those temporalities constituting queers and blacks as their “other”? Do theories and practices of queer negativity like Lee Edelman’s “No Future”-polemic11Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004). or Tim Dean’s “deathly” bareback sex22Tim Dean, Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009). actually question the hegemony of reproductive futurity, when at the same time migrant subjectivities and people of color seeking refuge don’t have the privilege to even start thinking about how to hold on to reproductive care work within a hostile environment that does not allow family unification? Do theories of black temporality—by attempting to reconstruct a precolonial past, for example—contradict queer thought, which has asserted that there can be no origin? These are only a few questions that seek to carve out the complexity of thinking about temporality intersectionally.

In order to discuss modes of living and desiring “that allow us to see and feel beyond the quagmire of the present,” to quote José Esteban Muñoz’s thought-provoking text Cruising Utopia,33José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009). the installation Looking After the Future: On Queer and Decolonial Temporalities as part of the podcast Queer Frequency Modulation presents Kara Keeling.

Kara Keeling discusses the temporal structure of colonialism in her first and crucial book The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense44Kara Keeling, The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007). by uniquely bringing together Gilles Deleuze’s reading of Henri Bergson and Frantz Fanon’s seminal text Black Skin White Masks.55Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks (originally New York: Grove Press, 1952; reprinted 2008). In the chapter “In the Interval,” Keeling refers to the cycle of colonial existence “wherein the black’s explosion”—namely decolonization—“always occurs ‘too late.’”66Keeling, The Witch’s Flight, 35. At the same time, she argues that running late or, in Fanon’s words, “waiting,” is a temporal structure that, due to the impossibility of anticipating decolonization, shatters white Western ideas of recognition. Waiting-time thus means incomprehensibility. As long as queer can be understood as a concept that drifts and is inscrutable for purposes of recognition, a proximity to black “temporalities of radical alterity” will somehow be lurking.77Kara Keeling, “LOOKING FOR M—: Queer Temporality, Black Political Possibility, and Poetry from the Future,” GLQ 15, no. 4 (2009): 565–582, here 575.

The group that interviewed Kara Keeling for the podcast caught up with some of these lurking potentials of a queer of color time and temporality. What’s more, Kara Keeling’s reflections echoed for quite a long while, which is why some of us chose to engage with the echo’s frequency and fashioned an installation. The installation’s sound work, which is presented here, is therefore part of a longer interview that can be accessed as podcast and in written form.

On the images @ Carol Neumann
On the surface of the sun, observing in detail, it is possible to see some dark areas. Showing different temperature and behaviour from the rest of the celestial body, the so-called coronal holes vary in size and are constantly changing: appear, move, disappear, at any time and location on the sun. The phenomenon, still not fully explained, seems to be connected to the origin of solar eruptions. 
A black hole that disturbs the sun. Maybe the future lives there: an invitation to the imagination that warms us every day, so that the time can exist. 
The images that illustrate the project Queer Frequencies Modulation use satelite images of coronal holes, which were edited using the Databending technique. That is, using a software specific to a format, such as a sound editor, to edit another format, such as an image. In practical terms, an image file was opened in a sound editor and sound effects were added to an image that appeared to be mute. The result: a subversion, an image that resounds, a black spot that throws sun, a possible future

 

Interview with Kara Keeling and hosted by: Rita Frank, Katrin Köppert, Arik Kofranek, Victor Negri, Carol Neumann, Alongkorn Phochanapan, Lea Taragona, and Pooneh Eftekhari Yekta
Installation: Katrin Köppert, Victor Negri, and Lea Taragona
Text: Katrin Köppert
Images: Carol Neumann
Sound-Design: Lea Taragona
Booklet: Alongkorn Phochanapan

 

 

    Fußnoten

  • 1Lee Edelman, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004).
  • 2Tim Dean, Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2009).
  • 3José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009).
  • 4Kara Keeling, The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).
  • 5Frantz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks (originally New York: Grove Press, 1952; reprinted 2008).
  • 6Keeling, The Witch’s Flight, 35.
  • 7Kara Keeling, “LOOKING FOR M—: Queer Temporality, Black Political Possibility, and Poetry from the Future,” GLQ 15, no. 4 (2009): 565–582, here 575.
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Index von Ausgabe #8