Identity ennui

Gender used to be a category of fixed oppositions grounded in recognizable binarisms. Ethnic identities and racial types, mainly made up by 18th and 19th century social scientists, were designed to serve exclusionary practices. Identity politics of the late 20th century provided a platform to escape from the stranglehold of homogeneous power groups. They sometimes also had essentialized side-effects. But that was yesterday. Today hybridity and gender bending, border-crossing and boundary blurring have reshaped certain categories past all recognition. Ennui has set in, suggesting that gender-as-such is very yesterday, very over, very not what determines actions or possibilities. Behaviors and styles don't follow the lines of gender, and a fusion function has overtaken identity fashions and politics. The ennui is a sign of a lowered angst, a letting go of certain struggles that used to seem urgent, important, if we were to be freed of the baggage of patriarchy and hegemony. Since that is still unlikely, we imagine and pretend, play roles and make images, icons of the possible and the still unthinkable. Art works offer a place for resolution of conflicts that can't get worked out in actuality, for leaping across the insurmountable obstacles between the thinkable and not. The modesty of a culture intent on repressing recognition of sexuality as a driving life force hits up against the potent urges of aesthetic expression and erotic method. Otherness is a performance of self at its limits. Unacceptable categories are harbingers of change. Bored? Look again. The possibilities are endless. Yesterday's yawn and sigh are tomorrow's opportunity for reinvention, a chance to shed the baggage of received traditions and negotiate as independent agents across the once-immutable categories of identity and gender.

Keith Smith - Reminiscences
Julio Galán - Behind You
Judy Fox - Rapunzel & Lakshmi
Kerry James Marshall - Rhythm Mastr
Lisa Yuskavage - K.K. & Ukranian Shirt
Tony Oursler - I Want to Be You
Sharon Lockhart - Julia and Thomas
iona rozeal brown - A3 Blackface #69 & #83