In what way is the right to the city expressed through the strategies of squatting? How could these actions be considered expressions of society rather than places of utopia?
This was part of the basic theoretical inquiry that gave the skeleton to a strange organism. Its name is “BaBel2. The Independent Biennial of Critical Housing”, an event that happened May 15 – 20 in Rome in a very symbolic location: “C.S.O.A. Forte Prenestino”, a squatted social center representing twenty six years of outlaw history and cultural production in Italy. Here the Queer movement produces an interzone; allowing territorial identities to again be deconstructed, reopened and fluctuating. The Independent Biennial of Critical Housing was a huge effort made by the organisers of BaBel2 as an enormous re-evaluation of 20 years of underground liberation history made by this movement.
BaBel2 conceptualised a “right to the city” positioning itself as the dissolving link between the 20th century sociopolitical category of ‘citizenship’ with the more lively category of “inhabitancy” as active becoming-metropole. In this perspective “the right to the city” does not wait for any political mediation but enters in the metropole, living it and opening it. In this frame, I felt that a crucial door-opening key was Tobaron Waxman’s curation of shorts, “TOPOGRAPHIXX: Trans in the landscape”. What gave me the reason to present it in the “landscape” of BaBel2, was the subtle poetic seduction of open bodies loving and becoming one with the landscape of a world-metropole; urban and rural at the same time. There is no dialectical opposition against the territory but a new emotional strategy of bodies opening to it, inhabiting it.
The biggest success was the screening of Del LaGrace Volcano’s “The Passionate Spectator ” which Tobaron describes as “the first non-narrative example of an Intersex Cinema”. I think it was the deepest representation of the emotional transition. This was not merely because the film was based on Charles Baudelaire’s flaneur´s visions and metropolitan consumption of an interconnected “ville lumiere”, but on the subtle abilities to be crossed by and guided by a metropolitan improvised polyphonic choir# in getting lost, guided by voices and enjoying the incongruence as new organism.
I personally loved Mirha Soleil Ross “Allo Performance!” paling concepts of frontier between body, pregnancy and waves on the sand. For me it was all about the sound and rhythm, sliding and defining genders. There is a perfect slow motion synch between the waves, the atonal sound of the mothers off-screen voice and the slow focus toward the close-up that makes you perceive, dream and reformulate a transfemininity representing the disturbing beauty of a pregnancy. It was like the landscape itself made her pregnant.
Chris Vargas’ video was the most pop and even the most dialectic of the whole screening because it risks to produce an opposition between what is external and what is internal in his vision of and relationship to the landscape.
In Raafat Hattab´s work “Bidun Unwaan” I saw the transitive vision between an open body and a tree of resistance, representing this dialogue of juxtaposing landscapes which, instead of synthesizing themselves in the oppression of an imposed development model, open a chaotic scenario. In a way this is the ideological base of the guerrilla gardening movement. Perhaps this is another reading from the fast perception of values such as roots, ground, national identity, resistance to the occupation omitting the sadness of death as a partial memory removal strategy.
After the screenings I would start a party by playing:
In their proposal for TOPOGRAPHIXX, Tobaron writes: “”TOPOGRAPHIXX is inspired by MTF spectrum filmmakers who have created imagery concerned with landscape. I have for a long time been interested in and an ally to activism around land claims, homelessness, and the basic human right to a self-determined context. TOPOGRAPHIXX presents a number of short films and videos which engage a variety of sites both natural and urban with political and esthetic strategies that harken back to feminist concerns with landscape, while simultaneously pushing forward into new territories of transfeminist representation. These works are in synch with my thoughts and aspirations for curation of work by trans people as well as the cultivation of a more intersectional discourse around gender, border trauma, territory and power.”
In this perspective a queer body can be the in/out gate of different metropoles development conceptualization, putting at stake either the homonationalism through pink washing or the turbogentrifications afflicting areas defined “queer” in Western metropoles. Trans in the landscape is the transition of the landscape as nomad trace leaving signifying desires of worlds to be; the interconnecting project of a without-organs body which found its becoming, resolving its heterotopic routine.
As part of the OUT LIKE THAT! Festival at Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!) MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival presents a screening of TOPOGRAPHIXX: Trans in the landscape on June 14, 2012. 8pm. Tickets: $5. Films include works by Barbara de Genevieve, Raafat Hattab, Rémy Huberdeau, Del La Grace Volcano, Mirha Soleil Ross, Jacolby Satterwhite, Chris Vargas, Yossi Yacov. Q&A to follow, with Jacolby Satterwhite and Tobaron Waxman.