A Strong Desire at PS120

A Strong Desire
PS120, Berlin
Co-curated by Justin Polera and Aleksandr Blanar
Curatorial Text by Christina Gigliotti
July 26th–August 26th 2018

Full exhibition documentation here
Interview about the exhibition on Two Coats of Paint

Exhibiting Artists: Kenneth Anger, Trisha Baga, Carrick Bell, Dante Buu, Andrey Bogush, Monica Bonvicini, Guglielmo Castelli, Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Kerstin Drechsel, EVA & ADELE, Claude Eigan, Leon Eisermann, Tom of Finland, Gerrit Frohne-Brinkmann, GeoVanna Gonzalez, Monika Grabuschnigg, Luki von der Gracht, Daniel Greenfield-Campoverde, Gordon Hall, Constantin Hartenstein, Florian Hetz, David Hockney, Andrew Holmquist, Karl Holmqvist, Kerstin Honeit, Christa Joo Hyun D'Angelo, Maren Karlson, Svenja Kreh, Sholem Krishtalka, Martin Maeller, Anastasia Muna, Kayode Ojo, Przemek Pyszczek, Karol Radziszewski, Jimmy Robert, Aura Rosenberg, Michael Rocco, Oskar Schmidt, Miray Seramet, Dimitri Shabalin, Andrzej Steinbach, Daniel Topka, Anna Uddenberg, Young Boy Dancing Group, Young-jun Tak, Peter Welz, Queer Zines from the collection of Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons co-organized by Dr. Peter Rehberg and Schwules Museum

With the generous support of Till-Oliver Kalane (BoB Immobilien-konzepte GmbH) and Peter Obsterfelder (Obsterfelder Architekten)

“Queer is a continuing moment, movement, motive–recurrent, eddying, troublant. Keenly, it is relational, and strange.”(1)

The exhibition A Strong Desire explores body politics and the commodification of relationships and sexual identity whilst living under a capitalist regime. The exhibition sets out to challenge heteronormativity and toxic masculinity by presenting artworks that present a kind of deterritorialization from this – through reevaluating power structures, slipping through the cracks of gender constructs, and for some, ultimately escaping the material body altogether through dreams, fantasy, and altered states of mind.

I know how cold your body is, I burnt my hands on it
I know how cold your body is, I burnt my feets on it
I know how cold your body is, I burnt my eyes on it
I know how cold your body is, I burnt my heart for it

–Oklou, “Friendless”, from the album The Rite of May

I want to tell you some of the things I have desired, but I am trying to navigate through a reality where desires are constructed for us to grasp on to, like Rapunzel’s braid reaching down to the bottom of a dark well, promising hope and light once we start climbing. I have fallen for many of these constructs and bought into them. It has given me pleasure to buy clothes, make-up, healthy vegan food, books – all things that I could use to groom my image into what I want it to be. The idealized version of myself is toned, glowing, busy but able to make time for friends and deep relationships – a real catch.

I have desired to be in relationships as cutting and tragic as the poetry of the Romantics. After my imaginary lover dies, I want to cut my hair and wear black for six years like Fanny Brawne.

“It is my desire I desire, and the loved being is no more than its tool.” – Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, 1977

Small details of past others reveal themselves to me in the present. I have desired:

a chipped front tooth
a patch of skin on a thigh newly shaved, surrounding a fresh tattoo
an old t-shirt in a vacuum sealed envelope sent to me from China, that the other had slept in for a few days, still sweat-scented
skin softer and hairier than mine
a voice recording of the words “good night”
complete anonymity

I hold on to these momentary disruptions, too instantaneous to be normalized.

(1) Maggie Nelson quoting Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick in The Argonauts, 2015