Lecture and Residency in Los Angeles with FRANK

My first encounter with the queer feminist art platform FRANK (Sille Storihle and Liv Bugge) was in 2013, when the Norwegian magazine Billedkunst invited us to be in conversation about queer art and theory in relation to my recently finished PhD. While snippets of our exchange got published under the title “Hjernevask og stammespråk” in Billedkunst, No. 3, 2013, this was really only the starting point of a friendship and a series of long conversations about the conditions for queer feminist thinking, practice, and doing.

In December 2013, I participated in FRANK’s Salon #10 at Kunstnernes Hus with a lecture about Renate Lorenz and Pauline Bourdy’s new work To Valerie Solanas and Marilyn Monroe in Recognition of their Desperation (2013). This Salon was also the official book launch for FRANK’s third artist book, Voluspå, that includes a series of art works and conversations about queer feminist art and politics in Norway today, including an exchange between FRANK and I on queerness, discourse, and third wave feminisms.

On February 21, FRANK will open the exhibition Marie Høeg Meets Klara Lidén at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles, and hold the US book release for Voluspå. I am fortunate to have been invited to Los Angeles by FRANK to give a lecture at the ONE Archives for the opening of the show, and I will give the talk “Breaking the Waves: Tuning in to Queer History with FRANK’s Voluspå” at 7 pm on February 21 at ONE.

I have also been fortunate to receive a residency at the guesthaus residency during my stay in Los Angeles, giving me the perfect setting for this research trip that will include explorations of the ONE Archives and the queer art scene in Los Angeles. I’ve never visited LA before, and I’m grateful to FRANK, OCA, and guesthaus residency for making this happen.

New Job

A new year, new opportunities. In the fall of 2012 I took up a part-time position as Art Theorist at the fantastic Funen Art Academy in Odense, while also teaching as an adjunct lecturer at University of Copenhagen. I have really loved my job at the Academy. The intimacy of the Academy has provided a fantastic framework for teaching and discussing art, politics, theory, history, and more with the amazing art students there. But life as a part time lecturer is unfortunately not really sustainable long term.

This week, on February 3, I started a new job as a full time Postdoc researcher at the section for Art History in the Department for Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. When I started this Monday, I got the keys to my new office and these beautiful flowers from my Head of Department. This will be my home for the next four years, first as Postdoc researcher, and from this fall and on, as an Assistant Professor in Art History.

I have been so fortunate to receive an amazing scholarship from the Danish Independent Research Council for my new research project “Colorblind? Theorizing Race in Danish Visual Arts and Performance”, that I’m starting working on this spring. On top of this research grant, the Danish Independent Research Council also awarded me the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Research’s “Sapere Aude Research Talent Grant,” at a very formal ceremony at Glyptoteket yesterday, with the Crown Princess Mary and the Minister of Research, Sofie Carsten Nielsen. Quite an experience. I have been allowed to combine my Postdoc grants with my Assistant Professor position, so I should have the very best conditions to finally start writing and thinking again after having been in total teaching mode for quite some time. Exciting!

Lecture in Vienna on Dormancy

I’ll be giving a keynote lecture this week at the conference Not Now! Now! The very exciting temporal politics of arts-based research at the Art Academy in Vienna. The title of my talk is “Dormancy: Art, Timing, and the Politics of Suspension,” and takes its starting point in the works by one of my favorite artists, Henriette Heise.  This is how the organizer, Renate Lorenz, describe the framework of the conference:

The conference NOT NOW! NOW! focuses on chronopolitics. While the field of temporality studies is relatively wide, the conference will lay special emphasis on the question of the temporal politics in the field of art. The conference departs from the premise that artistic practices are considered a productive means to challenge orderly and rigid temporal concepts and their effects on bodies andthe organising of the social: How exactly and by which formats andmethods can artistic practices intervene into normative, “straight,” linear and normalizing concepts of time? A specific selection of exemplary art works as well as recent debates in postcolonial andqueer studies will be the starting points for our commondiscussions.

Lectures by: Sharon Hayes (New York), Mathias Danbolt (Kopenhagen), Nana Adusei-Poku (Berlin), Jamika Ajalon (London, Suzana Milevska (Skopje / Wien).

Inputs by: Yva Jung (London), Ana Hoffner (Vienna), Dana Samuel (Montréal), Rana Öztürk (Dublin), Yasmine Eid Sabbagh (Vienna), Mara Lee Gerden (Gothenburg), Andrea Ray (Malmö), Ingrid Cogne (Vienna)

“Exhibition” with works by: Sharon Hayes, Ana Hoffner, Anna Tzini, Henriette Heise, Xiaoyan Men, Tanya Ostojic.

The conference starts on Thursday, October 17, at 3pm  and continues on  Friday, October 18. It all happens on Schillerplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, Aktzeichensaal (conference) / Aula (exhibition). Detailed program here.

New article: ‘The Trouble with Straight Time’ – and other sticky happenings

The anthology Performing Archives/Archives of Performance, edited by Rune Gade and Gunhild Borggreen is just out from Museum Tusculaneum Press. I have an article in it about the film installation N.O. Body (2008) by Renate Lorenz and Pauline Boudry called “The Trouble with Straight Time.” I am quite honored to have my text in company of work by scholars such as Amelia Jones, Heike Roms, Tracy Davis, and many many others.

This is how the publisher presents the book on their homepage:

Performing Archives/Archives of Performance contributes to the ongoing critical discussions of performance and its disappearance, of the ephemeral and its reproduction, of archives and mediatized recordings of liveness. The many contributions by excellent scholars and artists from a broad range of interdisciplinary fields as well as from various locations in research geographies demonstrate that despite the extensive discourse on the relationship between performance and the archive, inquiry into the productive tensions between ephemerality and permanence is by no means outdated or exhausted. New ways of understanding archives, history, and memory emerge and address theories of enactment and intervention, while concepts of performance constantly proliferate and enable a critical focus on archival residue. The contributions in Performing Archives/Archives of Performance cover philosophical inquiries as well as discussions of specific art works, performances, and archives.

If you happen to be in San Francisco or the Bay Area next week, I will be participating in a roundtable discussion at the book release on June 27 between 15.30-17.3o at Stanford University during the Performance Studies international #19 conference.


During PSi at Stanford University, I will also be giving a paper on Friday June 29 in the Old Union Second Floor Men’s Room (!) in the panel-party “We Need To Talk About Semen” that I have organized with Katie Brewer Ball, Johanna Lindsey, and Benjamin Haber. My paper is entitled “History in a Cup: Matt Wolf’s Smalltown Boys and the Artificial Reproduction of Queer Activism”… and I hope our panel will turn out to be ripe with sticky thoughts!

PhD Defense, January 29 & 30 at University of Bergen

I will be defending my PhD thesis Touching History: Art, Performance, and Politics in Queer Times on Wednesday January 30 at 9.30 at the University of Bergen, Norway. After years of research I am looking forward to defending my thesis and celebrate the culmination of my time as a student.

A PhD defense is quite an elaborate public affair in Norway, as it stretches across two days. Here is some information about the program for those who might be interested in attending the event.

* January 29, 2013, at 16.30: Trial lecture for PhD degree on a given topic in Auditorium B, Sydneshaugen skole, University of Bergen, Sydnesplass 9. (The evaluation committee of my disseration has given me a topic two weeks in advance that I have to prepare a one hour public lecture on).

Topic: Hayden White long ago called attention to the fact that “history” is bound by the paradox of fact and fiction, because it is literary (Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-century Europe, 1973). More recently he has affirmed that history itself situates us in a paradox: “We are left therefore in a paradoxical situation in which we must affirm at one and the same time our determination by history and our freedom from it” (“War and Peace: Against Historical Realism” 2007). Using Hayden White’s quotes as a backdrop, define, extend and illustrate the term “Queer Paradoxology”. And, as a supplement, discuss whether or not the “performative” is a way to write history while freeing ourselves from it.

* January 30, 2013, at 09.30-13.30
: PhD defense in the auditorium at Bryggens Museum – Bymuseet i Bergen, Dreggsallmenningen 3, 5835 Bergen.

1st opponent, Rebecca Schneider (Brown University, USA)

2nd opponent, Carol Mavor (University of Manchester, UK)

The evaluation committee is lead by Ellen Mortensen, University of Bergen.

(The PhD defense starts with a fifteen minute presentation by me. Following this, each of the two opponents have one hour to question and discuss my project with me in front of the audience.)

A press release about the dissertation is available at the University of Bergen’s homepage.


On Friday February 1 between 15-17, I’m giving a public lecture at Copenhagen University about my dissertation. The lecture “Touching History: Art, Performance, and Politics in Queer Times” will be held in building 23, 4th floor, room 39 at KUA, Emil Holms Kanal (se map here).

Lecture at the Queer Seminar in Stockholm 4/12

I’ve been invited to speak about my recently submitted PhD thesis “Touching History: Art, Performance, and Politics in Queer Times” at The Queer Seminar at Stockholm University. The lecture will be on Tuesday December 4th, 2012 between 16-18. The event is free and open for all, and the discussion will be in English. The event takes place in seminar room B479, 4th floor in at House B, where the Gender Studies Department is located (directions here).

We Who Feel Differently

In 2011 the artist Carlos Motta launched the ambitious project We Who Feel Differently – an exhibition, homepage, book, and e-journal – that addresses things at stake in contemporary queer and LGBT politics across the world. The project includes, among other things, interviews with fifty activists, academics and artists from Columbia, South Korea, Norway, and the US, and is as such a treasure trove for all of us who are engaged in transnational exchange on questions pertaining queer political ideas, struggles, and dreams.

In May 2012 Motta takes We Who Feel Differently to New York where The New Museum will function as a “hub” for further debates and discussions related to the project. I have had the pleasure of being invited to participate in a two day We Who Feel Differently: Symposium, organized by Motta and Raegan Truax at The New Museum on May 4-5.

A preliminary program is now online, and the event includes a wide range of amazing speakers and performers. Moderated by the eminent Ann Pellegrini, presenters include José Muñoz, Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, Emily Roydson, Heather Love, E. Patrick Johnson, Tiger Howard Devore, Julian Carter, Regina Gosset and Malik Gaines.

I will give a presentation entitled “Queer Preposterousness: We Who Feel Temporally Disoriented” on Saturday 5th, addressing the theme of that day on queer memory, art, and politics. For those who cannot come to the event, all the previous interviews, texts, and material related to We Who Feel Differently is available online, and that will keep you occupied for quite some time…

Trashing Dance Theatre Journal

I’m really looking forward to the new issue of Dance Theatre Journal on trash, edited by Owen G. Parry and João Florêncio. As part of the ‘trash team’ of the research project Performance Matters, I have been lucky to follow the development of this issue – and I am so happy that my article “This Performance Stinks: dunst and the Politics of Arrested Development” has been included.

This is what the editors write about the issue:

This special issue of Dance Theatre Journal is a dedicated and rigorous exploration of Trash in art, performance, work, and club culture. It features interviews with performance star and living-legend Penny Arcade, club performer Mouse, sex worker and activist Thierry Schaffauser, plus articles exploring the work of John Sex, Danish collective dunst, Club Wotever, wasted works, contaminated performances and the ‘lowest form of performance’ – living street sculptures. Forms of trashy articulation including soap box articles, TV Chat Shows and Tabloid Newspapers interrupt and compliment more formal essays and interviews in this special issue!

Contributors include: Augusto Corrieri, Bryony Kimmings, Eirini Kartsaki, Johanna Linsley, Lisa Wesley, Lorena Rivero de Beer, Marcia Farquhar, Marianne Mulvey, Mathias Danbolt, Oriana Fox, R. Justin Hunt, Rachel Lois Clapham, Season Butler, Tero Nahua, The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein, Vikki Chalklin.

If you are in London on October 25 at 18.00, pop by Toynbee Studios (28 Commercial Lane) for the release party and get a copy!

But it might be a good idea to come to Toynbee’s earlier on that Tuesday to experience the Trash Salon running between 14.00-18.00 where many of us DTJ-contributers will be performing. I’m gonna do a text-performance entitled “Getting Trashed: Scraps from the Dustbin of History”…

The Trash Salon kickstarts the week of Trashing Performance Public Programme which will make London quite a lot filthier:

Whereas the Trash Salon on Tuesday the 25th is free, the Trashing Performance events taking place later on in the week is ticketed. But I can assure you it will be worth the money, as you get the chance to hear people like Lauren Berlant, José Munoz, Vaginal Davis, Jennifer Doyle, Louis Weaver, Bird la Bird, Mel Brimfield, Gavin Butt, David Hoyle, Oreet Ashery, etc etc etc. See you there!

Mediernes islam-kritiske rygmarvsreaktion

Under er et leserbrev jeg skrev til Politiken for noen uker siden, som aldri kom på trykk grunnet plassmangel på debattsidene. Tenkte det like så godt kunne legges på nettet – selv om det allerede er noe utdatert…

Mediernes islam-kritiske rygmarvsreaktion
af Mathias Danbolt

I Politikens artikel 26/7 om mediernes dækning af terrorangrebet i Norge, fremhæver Mark Ørsten fra RUC, hvordan “sammenhængen mellem terror og islamisme er blevet en rygmarvsreaktion i medierne”. Rektor for Danmarks Journalist- og Mediehøjskole Anne-Marie Dohm er uenig i analysen og hævder, at “Vores opfattelse af, hvem der står bag terror, er jo meget præget af de senere års terrorhandlinger, som rent faktisk har været udført af islamister. Vi har set terrorhandlinger, som minder om terrorhandlingen i Oslo, i blandt andet Oklahoma, som er rettet direkte mod regeringskomplekser. Så man kan ikke fortænke medierne i at søge den form for forklaring.”

Citatet står som et skræmmende eksempel på netop den rygmarvsreaktion, som Ørsten peger på. Dohm fremhæver Oklahoma-angrebet i 1995 som eksempel på naturligheden af, at medierne tror terror mod demokratiske institutioner må stamme fra islamister. Men kan Dohm ikke huske, at dette angreb netop kom fra hvide amerikanske terrorister – med Timothy McVeigh og Terry Nichols i spidsen – hvis ideologiske baggrund hentede inspiration fra højreekstremister?

Oklahomabomben er netop en påmindelse om, hvor vigtigt det er at tage højreekstremismen alvorligt: McVeigh fremhæver den hvide suprematist William Luther Pierces ideologiske pamflet The Turner Diaries (1978) som inspirationskilde. Det samme finder man i Anders Behring Breiviks manifest 2083.

At rektor Dohm omskriver historien for at forsvare mediernes tunnelsyn på Islam er problematisk. At Politikens journalist ikke påpeger hendes fejlslutning og konfronterer hende med hendes islamkritiske rygmarvsreaktion er en skam.

Queer feminist ‘wishful thinking’ in Fett

A new issue of the Norwegian feminist magazine Fett is out today, focusing on “humor”. My second column in this great magazine is a self-study guide to “queer feminist wishful thinking” (“ønsketenkning”).

The column is a response to the many derogatory comments in Norwegian public debate on how queer theory and criticism is merely a bunch of ‘wishful thinking’ (Knut Olav Åmås, et al). Picking up this disparaging phrase, I argue that an important motor behind queer feminist critique is precisely its wish to think better – and do better.

Writing up against the ubiquitousness of a pragmatic discourse of quick and easy answers within gender and sexual political discussion in the mainstream in Norway, I attempt to reclaim the importance of utopian (or nowtopian) ‘wishful thinking’, drawing on a diverse and heterogenous crowd of queer and feminist visionaries including Shulamith Firestone, José Munoz, Nina Power, Lilian Munk Rösing, and Jill Dolan…

Norway need more weird and visionary queer feminisms! That is at least my wishful thinking…