I spent a while, meditating upon the images. They were simple, black and white, or in the over-saturated chromatic film: Super-8, Kodachrome and Polaroid. Existing between fire island, Taormina, and Capri the images captured within these Western fantasies of the Pastoral read: Men and men, gay men, "queer" men, Cis-men, White men fucking white men. Within these photographic archives, the pastoral/or wild fantasies would exceed their boundaries, into clubs, into the streets, domination knew no bounds. Outwith historical ethnopornography or racialised sex depictions held by the Hirschfeld, Welcome, or Kinsey, Queer was a historical synonym with gay white men.
Occasionally a dark-skinned indigenous-Latino, Or Afro-descended man with a usually muscular body would enter the photographic frame. Residing in the back, or in the margins, contoured with a manual camera's flash and the sheen of sweat and mineral oil.
I would try and register my frustration to friends, in commentary, and in work - This is not freeing us, it is not freeing me, but chaining us to a history of domination and death. The archives and scholarship would still center these images, aesthetic principles, Derek Jarman reiterating Taormina - and Wojnarowicz talking about Spanish-inherited masculinity: Bull-fighting, "primitive" Mexican Catholicism and more as a refuge from Germanic Westernised Catholicism; without realizing these as colonial practices, with understanding a particular form of American imperialism and its effects and disregarding the mass femicides of effeminate gay men, GNC bodies, Cis & Trans Women. And I watched people engage my work, in all the wrong registers, or without listening to a word I said. I returned to my books and would imitate them with minor edits or super-impositions, if one could see, perhaps one could know and I returned to study.
And I waited, hoping I might see a brown figure, someone who may not register, an aging vessel, trying to escape taxonomy - entirely.
There, There I was. A permutation of ambiguous brown flesh. The body was most likely Latinx, perhaps Southern Italian they probably identified as male and as gay, in private, happily.
Richard was standing, standing at the end of the line of tanned, slicked, and greased bodies with an equally ambiguous facial contortion. This expression between grimace and grin foregrounded my body amidst propriety of racialised wooden cutouts, a sand dune, a palm tree, a dish-towel. Neither did I care about the optics of pleasure or domination, after years of yearning about perhaps knowing a life that could be different than my own. Perhaps I had self-orientalised, perhaps I was never there. I sought a root as so I could dream of finding a way, some way out of this time.
The photograph offered no solace, and the longer I stared the longer I felt an itinerant rage. eyes. mouths. hands and clumsy gestures scratching, clutching, pulling, and spanking; Loneliness. Me and the resonant belly laughs of white men and women, creating the percussive beat that as a brown and feminine body in labouring I dance to, this environment was established on the premise that I both wanted this, or that my race precluded me from cognitive function, that I didn't understand or grasp the nature of their intended humiliation and joy. I was neither Italian or Latinx, I was to this extent, the subject of an eastern ghazal. I sat within this strange taxonomy, a boy which in bathrooms required a double-take, and had grown up brown and became ambiguous, working excessively in service to a record and in service of an empire and the maintenance of my area of study to which I wanted to demolish. I was Khairati immobilised.
I erased the gesture, the body, the scenario and I understood again that neither did I want to see my "condition", as never did I wish to be seen.
R E M O V I N G
E V E R Y
P A R T
T H A T
E V A D E D
L O V E
Graphite on paper, 21 x 29cm. 2019-2020