Even outside of forms of more explicit resistance, our project hopes to examine what it means to embrace joy and love in the mundane, while existing in a marginalized body that is so often susceptible to violence.
An Oral History
We felt that many of the portrayals of queerness that we had seen, both in the “Oral History, Cultural Identity, and the Arts” class and outside of it, examined the quotidian violence that queer people experience, and we wanted to think about queer joy as a revolutionary practice. Furthermore, we felt that many portrayals of love focused on imagery of the nuclear family and heterosexual relationships, and we hoped to examine a form of love that was antithetical to that, or at the very least, problematized portrayals of love. In All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks writes, “We cannot effectively resist domination if our efforts to create meaningful, lasting, personal and social change are not grounded in a love ethic.” Examples such as the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program, a labor of love borne out of a love for community, provide an illustration of what resisting oppression through joy and love might look like. Even outside of forms of more explicit resistance, our project hopes to examine what it means to embrace joy and love in the mundane, while existing in a marginalized body that is so often susceptible to violence. Furthermore, we hoped to examine how individuals might find solace in joy and love despite oppressive power structures. As bell hooks writes, “To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships.”
We created a sign that read “TALK TO US ABOUT QUEER LOVE!” and sat in Tompkins Square Park for a few hours in Spring 2022 to see what people might have to say. We received a series of beautiful, insightful, and enigmatic responses––both written and oral. While contemplating how to display these responses, we were reminded of Alice Walker’s introduction to Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography, in which Walker writes, “We are a people. A people do not throw their geniuses away. And if they are thrown away, it is our duty, as artists and as witnesses for the future, to collect them again for our children, and, if necessary, bone by bone.” We were struck by the metaphor of collecting “bone by bone,” and wanted to encompass the responses we had received through a labor of love. We compiled a series of twenty-eight pull-quotes from the interviews we had conducted, and linocut a series of stamps that made up the entire alphabet. We then stamped each quote, letter by letter, onto a cotton fabric, which we then hand-embroidered onto a muslin fabric that we bound into a book. We hope that this book provides an insight into the revolutionary power of joy and love.