ritual of queer rituals
A performative symposium convened by AA Bronson and Carlos Motta

November 2, 2013

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art
Rotterdam NL


Participants: Ron Athey, AA Bronson, François Chaignaud, Carlos Motta, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Linn Tonstad and Sands Murray-Wassink.

ritual of queer rituals gathers an intergenerational group of artists and thinkers to conduct, perform, and discuss queer rituals in an event that explores the intersections of queer self-representation, spirituality, and the politics of the body.

Queer, originally a derogatory term for homosexuals, was reclaimed in the 1990s by gay and lesbian activists in order to distance themselves from gay liberation and its movement toward assimilation. More recently, academics have associated the word with fluid, expansive, heterogeneous, and non-conforming attitudes and behaviors regarding sexuality and gender. Ritual, is mostly associated with set activities performed by organized spiritual and religious groups. A queer ritual is thus a special kind of ritual, one where the ritual is ‘queered’ or re-discovered in an attempt to defy the regulation of sexuality and to rescue and disassociate spirituality from normative tradition in a conscious rejection of heterosexual societal norms.

Queer rituals are individual, collective, private, and public acts of social exchange, affection, kinship, veneration, belonging, and resistance. These actions build communities around sex, play, health, disease, life, death, paganism, magic, and ways of living that challenge repressive notions of morality and respectability.

Featuring rituals as interventions, performances and performative lectures, ritual of queer rituals is both a celebration and critical space to discuss the place that queer rituals play today. At a time when sexual and gender politics have become very visible yet have adopted strategies and discourses of assimilation, queer rituals may offer affirmative spaces of deviance, subversion and indecency that continuously propose alternative relationships as the basis of queer sociability.

ritual of queer rituals was convened by artists AA Bronson and Carlos Motta in the context of the exhibition The Temptation of AA Bronson at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam). It was the fourth of a series of performative symposia organized by Motta at Tate Modern, New Museum, (with Raegan Truax) and the Institute for Art, Religion, and Social Justice (with Jared Gilbert) to discuss pressing issues of contemporary queer culture.