Panel 1: Reinventing Object Love

10:15–10:35 Anastasia Starikova: The Love Object

We love objects. We tend to fill objects with meaning: idols, totems, artefacts, magical objects, mementos, knickknacks, collectibles, souvenirs, heirlooms and us worshiping, collecting, buying, archiving, cataloguing, arranging, preserving and caring. We base understanding of ourselves and our histories around objects, would it be in a museum or through a mom’s jewellery box. Our collector’s pleasure is sensual when we go through the collection and organize it and we touch the object to be closer to a person who owned or made it. We create fetishes. Fetishes – as objects that have power over humans or objects that can communicate.

My artistic practice comes from an interest in experimental and fringe archival practices and phenomenon of ‘the urge to collect’. I look at the home space and developed archival practices as well as the aspects of how fictional, archival and in some cases digital matter together can produce knowledge. A lot of my projects deal with peoples collecting/archival practices in relation to their personal possessions, digital matter, home environment or non-institutional collections. If an archive is a “general system of the formation and transformation of statements” then what happens to the language and knowledge in a self-made archive? Such practices tend to form from various needs: a need for autoethnography or alternative histories, an attempt of preservation, a sense of care and intimacy or a sense of representation. Collecting and hoarding (even if it is a structured or institutionalized hoarding) can be a ritual or an act of stopping time.

I will present two of my projects. One is called Archiving Jakub and is an on-going archive of all the objects my friend and artist Jakub Ceglarz had in his studio apartment from 2012-2017. The process of documentation creates an inner logic and structure of an experimental archive which correspond to the ideas of home, heterotopia and care that Jakub tackles in his work. However, this project is mostly about [alternative] intimacy, friendship and non-sexual ways of love and care which are established through collecting/archiving, taking photographs and having conversations. Another project, Untitled, is an investigation into my grandfather’s relationship with photography through conversations about a family archive and discovery of developed practices around found objects. This presentation will also serve as an introduction to Jakub Ceglarz’s presentation. Our art practices and research subjects develop hand in hand as well as Jakub being a subject of one of my art projects described below.

Anastasia Starikova is an artist and researcher, born in 1991 in Riga, Latvia. Currently based in Birmingham, UK and holds an artist studio at Stryx Gallery. Her main interest lies within experimental archiving and fictional narratives as a way of producing knowledge. Some of her current projects involve archiving artistic spaces (home/studio) or producing work based on an existing archive/investigating archival practices that take shape of installations, collections of objects and photographs. She occasionally works with text, web performances and publications.

10:40–11:00 Jakub Jan Ceglarz: LOVE MANIFESTO – the care, the practice and the pleasure

In March of this year I had an opportunity to deliver an art exhibition titled LOVE in the Lab 155 gallery in Bologna, Italy. This exhibition featured artworks that I developed through research on relationship between queer sexual practices and an experience of a domestic space of home. For the opening night of this event, I performed a Love Manifesto, a piece of writing that explores and possibility of loving outside the normative structures of coupling and instead focuses its attention on love as a multiple, sensual, erotic and in its most radical matter aimed at non-human, form of art praxis. To untie the knot, as per aim of this conference, I would like to propose a performative reading of the Love Manifesto accompanied by a presentation that unpicks further ideas on the method and matter (care and practice) as emerged from my artworks.

Through both my presentation and Love Manifesto, I do not try to create a general and universal understanding of love, rather I argue the matters of love, not as a gift to be bestow, or as a coagulated object of a contemplation. In my work, instead, I want to attune to the logic and materiality that practices of love and care can produce – in case of this presentation the grease, the excess and the nourishment – and how through these matters can we understand a queer form of love, as an episodic (yet sustainable), disjointed (yet visible) and disorientating (yet attuned) art praxis. For this presentation, I will focus on three enactments and materialities of queer love.

First is the Crisco Method, as emerged through reading of the description of a 70’s gay fisting club by Gayle R. Rubin in her text The Catacombs: A Temple of the Butthole (2011). Crisco Method refers to the sexual, and pleasure driven way of bringing things into contact, by sliding into a slippery encounter that could not or should not be possible to begin with. Second instance, a Faggot Matter deals with the forms of excess (Lisa Metherell, Glittering Orientations; Towards a Non-Figurative Queer Art, 2014 and Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds – Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories, 2010) that challenges bodies to renegotiate themselves, both in the sensual sense and in the experience and in the practice of the self. Third – palimpsestuousness – a queer entanglement of sorts that emerged from the reading of Karen Barad’s concept of intra-actions (2015) and proposes a form of multiplicity, a belonging-together-apart, that is not a subject to revealing/confessing.

Jakub Jan Ceglarz is a Polish artist and researcher based in Birmingham, UK. He has exhibited his work nationally (Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Blackpoll) and internationally (Portugal, Belgium, Hungary, Italy). His practice is concerned with renegotiating social, political, historical and material structures of layers. He is challenging them by critically engaging with the sexual, visceral and mundane forms of homespun aesthetics. His work takes form of performance-based, p a l i m p s e s t u o u s films, photographs and installations. He holds a PhD (AHRC – M3C) in Fine Art from Birmingham School of Art, Birmingham City University (2018). For his work, he received Mike Holland Prize (2013) and Gertrude Ashton Bowater Bequest Award (2012).

11:05–11:25 Adam Zaretsky: Object Oriented Psychopathia Sexualis (OOPS) studies presents: Queer Adjectivist Ontology (QAO) – Object Relations and Descriptive Cathexis

How are we to read gender alterity, libidinal sexuality, and biological sex through the mechanism of experiential, physical, and erotic incorporations of transgenic, biomorphic, or hereditary cascade methodology? The problem of object relations is pressing. This psychic trail to the world is driven by drives. Yes, drives drive drives. If it is libido or other forms of life force as well, the type of relations an organism has with and for objects is charged by describable characteristics. There is no nondescript desire. What is most important, most left unexplored, is the descriptive relation, the peaks and canyons, and, in particular, the open ranges. This is a question of whether broken, bent, blocked, butchered, and bashed cathexes are the root of objectification, or if there is no other relation, still traumatic yes, but no relationship without some force of describable yet verb-bound, done-to interaction. This would advance the range of cathexes descriptors to include difficult relations, as a carrying potential for trauma-lessness. Relations alone are severed, shredded, finely minced, and tormented in various ways. For instance, relations can be taut or frayed, fuzzy or slick, kinked or softly flowing, unidirectional or omnidirectional, branched or fomenting, shaggy or anorexic, untimely, effluvian, clogged, sharp, pert, preternatural, somnambulistic, Nurenbergian. This is a question of impregnating and imbuing in and around a scientific or medical process as changeling. Without these inured, blunted, impeded, and scarred relations, the grasping, moist, slow, throbbing, pulsing, squiggling, negentropic, optimistic, and elated transmissions of want and gift will have no bearing in the world of flat unit objects.

Adam Zaretsky, Ph.D. teaches video, performance, video compositing, new media, art and technology, web/interactivity, digital audio, digital imaging, and contemporary theory. A former researcher at the MIT department of biology, for the past decade Zaretsky has been teaching an experimental bioart class called VivoArts at: San Francisco State University (SFSU), SymbioticA (UWA), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), University of Leiden’s The Arts and Genomic Centre (TAGC), and with the Waag Society. His art practice focuses on an array of legal, ethical, social and libidinal implications of biotechnological materials and methods with a focus on transgenic humans. Zaretsky stages lively, hands-on bioart production labs.