Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Last week, I attended a fantastic presentation by O. Segal, doctoral candidate in Near Eastern Studies at the University. Segal's talk was a comparative essay on two recent exhibitions (2001, 2007) on Independence Park, a cruising place in T. Aviv. Both works were attempts to challenge the conventional representations of this park as a dark cruising site, and critique the everyday reduction of sexuality to sickness, something unnatural and illicit. Specifically, the 2001 exhibition aimed to present the park as a beautiful place – showcasing the site in broad daylight (emphasis edded), with identifiable actors, in their everyday wear and beautiful postures. It sought to legitimize the space by describing it as a site where gays openly exercise their sexuality. The 2007 work, in comparison, exhibited the park as a natural site with emphasis on its flora, animal life and colorful sunsets. It downplayed the sexual context of the park only to universalize the space, and place it in the context of natural (read normal) geographies. Segal's close readings of the images, however, revealed an interesting trap. By way of intertextuality, he argued that despite each exhibition's attempts to "depoliticize" the park, the exhibits referred back to queer culture and made implicit references to homosexuality and its deep embedding in space - both physical and social.

The trap notwithstanding, I felt, Segal's critical use of art history to illuminate the queer context ultimately also helped historicize, naturalize, intellectualize, militarize and regionalize the park and its spatio-sexual dialectic. The exhibitions in and of themselves might have failed in naturalizing the environs, but Segal's work offered a perfect rethinking of the park with all its contradictions.


About This Blog

This blog is built around what I refer to as the socio-sexual debate, meaning the simultaneously coexisting conditions of human society and human sexuality in a constant state of inner conflict and pressing debate. To read more, click here.

Opinion Matters

"There is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels" (Mika* in an interview with Shana Naomi Krochmal, OUT, 2008-01-28).

*Mika is a London-based singer-songwriter.

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