The Universal Separatist

On Queer Re-enactment, I

On May 10, 2013, I spoke on a panel at the New Museum with Holly Hughes, Cynthia Carr, Emily Roysdon and Malik Gaines, organized by Travis Chamberlain, on the subject of “Queer Re-enactment.” Here are my notes.

Alexandro Segade, Sir Gaveston, video installation, UCLA Warner Studios, 2007

Alexandro Segade, Sir Gaveston, video installation, UCLA Warner Studios, 2007

to reenact is to perform again. in some performance art the idea of “performing again” may seem a transgression. hence, anxiety around the notion of “reperformance,” or, perhaps more shockingly, “rehearsal.” in the performing arts, this “performing again” is called a repertoire. my first piece in grad school. a video of an actor performing the opening scene from Christopher Marlowe’s 16th Century play Edward the 2nd.

My father is deceast, come Gaveston,’
‘And share the kingdom with thy deerest friend.’
Ah words that make me surfet with delight:
What greater blisse can hap to Gaveston,
Then live and be the favorit of a king?
Sweete prince I come, these these thy amorous lines,
Might have enforst me to have swum from France,
And like Leander gaspt upon the sande,
So thou wouldst smile and take me in thy armes.

re-enactment.002

i was raised in san diego, california, parented in part by late night cable television. this disembodied babysitter weened my brother and me on an unsupervised stream of of sci fi fantasies, set to synthesized music, that expressed – no, induced – anxiety about what i would later know as “the spectacle.” These films recurred in cycles on channels like cinemax, taken together they offered an alienated, mediatized, sexualized and sinister world of deformed mutants, vengeful clones, slick cyborgs, new wave femme fatales, alien media moguls, and movie-maddened maniacs. these films freaked us out, lodging themselves in our minds like a trauma, one we would re-enact with each other in our bedroom after the lights went out. i bought my brother a copy of looker for his birthday this year and when we put it on, we immediately recalled every word of the first scene, where a blond model recites her imperfections to a plastic surgeon, then is shot with a laser and falls out of a window. my brother and i are both gay. we took to camp early.

re-enactment.003

lately, my brother and i have been collaborating on a series of performances that take place in a california of the future. the advent of human cloning has lead to a regime of hyper conformist homosexual replicants. marriage between the gay clones is mandated by law. organics, as all non-clones are called, are monitored closely – and polyamorous queer dissidents are hunted.

i act as writer, director, producer and sometimes performer in these works. my brother, mateo, provides the music, live DJing his own compositions, soundtracks that recall the movies we grew up with. in the latest installment of the series, The Holo Library, which is performed as a staged reading, actors read from a script projected opposite the stage. The convoluted story imagines a moment in which the screens that inform, entertain, and estrange the people of this future world take on a life of their own.

what are my brother and i doing in these performances if not reenacting – restaging – reliving – the phantasmic, holographic, hallucinatory screen-lives of our childhood, a childhood that predicted much of the screen-based life we would come to know as our cntemporary monet? the mysanthropic sci-fi of the 80s was deeply misogynist, xenophobic, homophobic and archly conservative – with normal humans privileged over all the awesome alternatives they offered. i, personally, would prefer to be almost anything other than the protagonist of bladerunner or videodrome – and this how i knew, in part, i was queer. in these re-imaginings of the mythologies of the 80s that we grew up with, my brother and i are inserting, and asserting, a queer vision of our future.


re-enactment.018

wu tsang and i went to graduate school together at UCLA. our studios next to each other, both of us studying under the tutelage of mary kelly, we became quite close. both of us performers, both of us interested in pop culture, both of us working collaboratively – but not with each ther. ten years apart, wu is a trans man and i am what mary kelly termed “an old school queer.” when we were nominated for an art matters grant, we used it as an opportunity to fund something we could do together. after a lot of tequila and a lot of dancing and a lot of late nights, we found our mutual crush and our project: Yukio Mishima, the infamous Japanese writer, and decided to adapt one of his novels, Thirst For Love, a doomed love story, a meditation on desire and jealousy, two things you learn a lot about if you drink tequila and hang out in queer clubs late at night. I would act as writer, Wu as director, and we would switch off playing both the rich woman Etsuko, and Saburo, the poor boy who is the object of her obsession. We would also play ourselves. We sequestered ourselves in a Mexico city hotel with a film crew and acted out scenes from the book.

re-enactment.019

malik gaines and i met in 1991, right out of high school, and we fell in love – with each other’s personalities, bodies and imaginations. we started making below the underground theater in LA soon after, acting out queer versions of TV shows and historical melodramas for audiences of our friends. a few years later, we met jade gordon, an actor, and within minutes, a performance collective called my barbarian was founded. we have been working together for thirteen years now.

re-enactment.020

within that time my barbarian has taken as its primary strategy the appropriation and re-working of theatrical performance forms, morphing from art band to theater company to super hero team to encounter group to TV show production company to art collective, often renaming the group after the projects, assuming alter egos and group identities. in all cases, these representations of collective, collaborative performance propose and interrogate queer possibilities. two concurrent projects are the post-living ante action theater and the broke peoples baroque peoples theater.

re-enactment.021

PoLAAT restages leftist theater forms, from brecht’s epic theater to fassbinder’s anti-theater to boal’s theater of the oppressed, engaging pedagogical models, group participation, often taking the social form of the workshop.

The broke baroque ressurects camp classicism – a la Charles Ludlam and Jack Smith – with contemporary detritus of late capitalism, and it’s queer mutations, e.g. rupaul’s drag race, all within the framework of Baroque festive performance.

re-enactment.039

as a teen, i played dungeons & dragons, a convivial, relational game form based on chance – as in the rolling of oddly shaped dice – and role-play. nerds gravitated toward this pre-virtual RPG, asocial, awkward, but together, at our parents dining room tables, we could collectively imagine another place, ourselves another group – racially diverse band of elves, half-orcs, gnomes and dwarves – of whatever gender we chose. and it wasn’t a coincidence that these gatherings would often end in a slumber party, and that the games themselves took on a queer coloring, if repressed by adolescent anxieties and complicated by the homophobia of the reagan era and the beginnings of AIDS. a storyteller always, i often served as the dungeon master. this game is one of the origins of my own understanding of myself as a person, a queer, and this may be what i am reenacting in making the work that i now think of as art.

re-enactment.040

i am not interested in artwork that is satisfied to reenact already canonized avant-gardes, using modernism as a camouflage to blend into the artworld. reenactment of this sort interests me less than the queer pleasure and play of acting. and i’m not interested in straight acting either.

Holoscreens

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 7, 2011

Other Boys and Other Stories, Vox Populi, Phildelphia, 2011

The Holoscreens recently gained consciousness, which wasn’t a surprise for everyone. “It was an inevitable mutation,” wrote Golan 83, given their advanced intelligence, designed, as they were, by the Replicants. No longer under any form of corporate or biological control, the linked network of instantaneous, non-corporeal, cross-platform media content providers has since struck partnerships across Governmental lines, providing information, entertainment, propaganda and product placement for the wealthy regimes in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Israel, New York, and Russia, despite the disagreements that divide these states into factions. Unlike the mindless Vogarobots, the Holoscreens betray no emotion. Yet they make their own decisions. It is widely understood that the Holoscreens do not work with the Separatists. And yet, it is rumored that there are some dissidence within the network who have been making overtures to a certain boy band, in hopes that a major comeback concert, broadcast live, simultaneously across the intelligence system, might have profoundly beneficial effects on the space occupied by sentient beings.

Control Room

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 7, 2011

Other Boys and Other Stories, Pieter, Los Angeles, 2010

The Vogarobots are androids developed through a fundraising initiative by replicant Golan 84 with the purpose of replacing clones as service providers. They function as personal assistants, industrial laborers and sex-workers. They are not conscious beings, but they are able to adopt attitudes.

GOLAN 84, a clone, and VOGAROBOT, a computer robot.

GOLAN 84
Login.

VOGAROBOT
Biometrics.

GOLAN 84
Commence face scan.

VOGAROBOT
One moment please. Thank you for waiting.

GOLAN 84
Commence retinal.

VOGAROBOT
Retinal complete.

GOLAN 84
Iris.

VOGAROBOT
Match.

GOLAN 84
Hand geometry.

VOGAROBOT
Hand geometry checks.

GOLAN 84
Finger print.

VOGAROBOT
Done.

GOLAN 84
Voice.

VOGAROBOT
Voice.

GOLAN 84
Vascular analysis.

VOGAROBOT
Vascular analysis confirms: Golan 84, latest model of 80 series. Welcome to email.

GOLAN 84
Inbox.

VOGAROBOT
606 new emails in 8 hours.

GOLAN 84
Anything from the Governor?

VOGAROBOT
Yes. Sender: Governor. Subject: Degradation of spirit.

GOLAN 84
Read.

VOGAROBOT / GOVERNOR
Golan 84, you know better than anyone my commitment to support for the Israeli space mission. When I met the first Golan, a man you are a fourth generation clone of, I vowed to him that we would see Jews in space before the end of our lifetimes. He – you – have died three times since then. And I am still here. And thanks to wise investments I made when first elected, you are still here again. Yet the israeli space station has stalled, in large part due to the unstable nature of California’s economic situation, which as we both know has a special relationship with Israel. It’s been one month since you left Sacramento for the Southland to tamp down on the separatist saboteurs whose profound criminality has thrown our banking system into turmoil. You have detained only teenagers with dissociative identity disorders, and while I applaud the spirit of your campaign to strike the fan base, what we need to see on the Holoscreens is dead seps. Body parts. Faceless corpses. The annihilated. We need night vision videos of little black pixels attacking each other. Your predecessors knew this. Golan 82 died making propaganda. His on-camera kidnap and torture did more for the state than any of the assassinations he successfully carried out, by stirring a swell of outrage and sacrifice in the voters, created a rippling tide that carried me to my third term. But now is not a time to show weakness and I am not asking you to die again, my love. I am asking for the easiest thing to grant: unleash your replicants. Show force. The markets must be assuaged so that we can free up the funds for the space plan.You will be the first to benefit: I will appoint you czar of the interstellar kibbutz you always dreamed of… Please don’t let me, or your previous generations, or the clones that may follow you if you fail, down. I love you, the Governor.

GOLAN 84
My Governor, we have been married all of my lifetimes, and I remember each one. I also remember my deaths – the accumulated traumas of which have caused me to look at the wholesale slaughter you are ordering differently than I could of – the brave poet and soldier just back from a tour of duty in Gaza – so many years ago. The subtext of your email frightens me much more than the content and I am wondering which advisor has your ear (Is it Gary?) up there in Sacramento in my absence, and what else of yours his mouth is breathing on. The separatist threat has been greatly weakened by the media crackdown my VOGAROBOT team instituted. Just now, a possibly viral music video promoting the outlaw boy band was detected and deleted before ever making it onto the web. Prevention should be enough to allay the fears of your backers for this venture. It is true that my original always dreamed of living among the stars. He was young and the young see only stars and assume they belong among them. Perhaps it is my status as a copy of a copy of a copy that grants me the special perspective in this case. Your advisors (Gary) have no doubt reminded you of the degradation principle of clone theory, calling on the disturbing sag of entropy as the explanation for my ideological mutation. It may be so. I have blurry vision in my right eye. My left hand shakes sometimes. I know something is wrong with me. But my powers of logic and deduction are unsurpassed in your administration, and I have a gift for creating a positive buzz. You could be the father of law, my love. Your population would give themselves to you freely. You have defeated death. I am proof of that. Think of it that way. XO G84. Send.

VOGAROBOT
Sent.

Golan 84 turns off the Vogarobot.

The Other Boys

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 7, 2011

The video was seen by all of them, and no one else.  It played behind their eyes.

Wyoming

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 7, 2011

The Other Boys and other Stories, Pieter, Los Angeles, 2010

TALKER 1
The Separatist Boybanders, internal to California and comprised primarily of teen-agers, and their 21-35-year-old sympathizers, was not in fact the only threat to the integrity of the State. When the replicants became the sole police authority by decree of the Governor, and sexual reproduction
was made a crime, the political situation for the contrarian Maternal Origin Movement, became insufferable. Bearskin Lakefront, the telegenic face of the M.O.M.s, lead an exodus of biologicals from California to Wyoming, a state which had by then spread, the hearty people of Wyoming finding it easy
to overtake its surrounding governments; failed states that had never benefitted from the big boom of biotech; a cluster of areas banded together by a renewed, reactionary faith in The Universe in the Uterus, as the best-selling manifesto, was called. Thus, the gynarchy that was said to have faded in the
ancient times became reborn in a western matriotic society, flying the hand-woven flag of mandatory sexual reproduction.

TALKER 2
And hunting, and gun worship. But if there were no animals left, what were the guns, (which were traded for sex slaves (i.e. women who were unable to procreate) shipped to Russia (which had long since exhausted it’s own supply)) going to be used for?

TALKER 3
In a departure from speech-making, Bearskin Lakefront’s tenure as M.O.M. leader was characterized by televised discussions
she had with her ever-pregnant daughter, Pistol, for all the state to watch on their holoscreens. The setting was the grand presidential, tipi, sewn together from the cured hides of Replicant police she caught at the border of what had once been Nevada, now a contested area and site of one of many wars between the states.

TALKER 2
And so we join the leader of the M.O.M.s, with her daughter, in a discussion already in progress.

PISTOL
Mama, tell us of the meaning of the hunt?

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
Since ancient times, humans have had to hunt to prove they were not animals.

PISTOL
But all the animals are gone.

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
The furry animals are gone, and the fish and the birds, and the insects too, but my darling, the clones are here to provide us with something to hunt. The great mother goddess, in her wisdom, allowed humans the gift of life-like re-creation only so we could make something lesser than us to satisfy the bloodlust that is natural to us, as natural as carrying a blessed child to term.

PISTOL
Mama, I am sixteen and this will be my fourth baby. When will I have had enough babies?

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
That is a paradox: there can never be enough babies, but there are already enough adults. Adults make mistakes, but babies teach lessons. Every one of my babies proved something to me I had already suspected. You taught me that daughters are mirrors of showing a lady. My sons taught me pain is the best part of life, but one which must be contained, like orgasm, by codes of conduct. That is why male children are not allowed to live among us after they are sixteen. They must be sent to the hunting squads. While women must fight too, I ain’t saying we can’t, it is also our duty to live till we are old
and pass on traditions. Sons kill or be killed, die for the cause, \wear cargo pants without shirts; their torsos weathered and their seductive power diminished.

PISTOL
Mama, my new boyfriend, his name is Kitten, he’s thirteen, he has red hair, and I am sad he has to leave in three years to fight in Nevada against those gay monsters out in California. Sometimes I hate the system, but I know you designed it to benefit my children.

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
Exactly. And remember: every tear you cry for Kitten is the tear of a black widow, like the Spiderwoman, who wove our universe to trap flies.

PISTOL
Last night, I was teaching Jemima-Claw, my eldest, about how to drive a car and she ran over another child, dead. As is the law, I paid the family with a hundred starch balls for each year of the baby’s life, and they seemed to think it was a more than fair trade. As I was filling out the paperwork, the husband, who was fifteen, thanked us for relieving him of the burden. You see, it was a slow kid; wasn’t contributing to the clan.

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
All babies are procreated for a purpose. That baby died in order to teach Jemima-Claw the consequences of vehicles. It was wrong of the family to admit that they were happy for the death; it shows a lack of breeding on their part.

PISTOL
Mama, I want to fight in the war too, as soon as this baby is out of me.

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
The greatest accomplishments of history are those of warrior ladies. When I was born, there still was respect for what a woman could do that no man could. Yet, even then, people didn’t see the connection to traditions, per se, as important. They were too busy trying to make a living. What is the point of making a living in a culture of what I call artistic production when you can literally make the living come right out of your body? It is infinitude, multiplicity, right in you. And then there is what I call the Great Irony, in that what entities are produced from the human body also have the power to terminate life. So Pistol, when you have had your mandatory five children, and your contract will be fulfilled, you go, girl! You go, girl, and you fight, wonder woman. Good hunting. Clone meat tastes just like tofu. Bring me back some skins and we’ll build you a home.

PISTOL
Thank you, Mama.

BEARSKIN LAKEFRONT
Bless us all and our great state, as it spreads like juice across the kitchen counter.

PISTOL
Amen.

The Apartment

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 6, 2011

The Other Boys & Other Stories, Pieter Performance Art Space Dance, 2010

THE APARTMENT

Lights and cars visible through a window… Taliban, in his 20s, opens door to the apartment, wearing his uniform.

TALIBAN
Hello?

He plugs his module into the end-table. Music plays. Taliban looks around the apartment. It’s messy.

TALIBAN
I thought you said you were going to do the dishes… You home? God, this song is barf.
Song changes.
TALIBAN
Oh this is my jam.

MOTHER stands in the doorway, staring at him. She is a cyborg and appears younger than she is.

TALIBAN
Mom, you scared me.

MOTHER
Son.

TALIBAN
I wasn’t doing anything that weird.

MOTHER
Taliban.

TALIBAN
Do you like that song?

MOTHER
Your father always said he felt like he was being punished for something he didn’t do.

TALIBAN
He’s a foreigner.

MOTHER
He’s cursed. Beautiful boys are trouble.

TALIBAN
We run the world, ma.

TALIBAN starts getting dressed, putting on a trendy club outfit.

MOTHER
I don’t like the vibe of your outfit.

TALIBAN
I’m not trying to impress you.

MOTHER
It’s illegal to wear baseball hats backwards.

TALIBAN
I borrowed some of your lipstick.

MOTHER
What’s the matter with you?

TALIBAN
I’m too stylish.

MOTHER
Bleep.

TALIBAN takes off his hat, checks his outfit out in the mirror, puts his collar down.

MOTHER
He’s here.

The door swings open. FATHER wears a military industrial uniform. He sees TALIBAN, looks his outfit over, and throws himself on the floor.

FATHER
No! Why? Why? NO.

MOTHER
Do you want something to eat?

FATHER takes TALIBAN by the shoulders.

FATHER
My son, my only son, what are you doing?

TALIBAN
Dad, I can’t fucking wear a uniform to the club!

FATHER
The club? The club! I don’t think you should go. The clones, they will take you away. I can see you in the jail cell, all alone.

TALIBAN
I already told Death Baby Lady Jihad I would meet him there. Setting me up with two rich guys, she said.

FATHER
Outlaws! They will get themselves killed in six months. They will taze them until their verbous system breaks down, and throw them in the river.

TALIBAN
Please. That’s just a program you saw on the holoscreen.

MOTHER
Respect your father’s psychic abilities, Taliban.

TALIBAN
If dad is so psychic, how come we live in such a horrible apartment?

FATHER
I always knew I’d be poor.

TALIBAN
That doesn’t make it right.

MOTHER
Dinner.

TALIBAN
I’m on too over-stimulated to eat right now.

MOTHER
We’re all on amphetamines, but we still have to eat.

FATHER
I can afford barely to feed you. I make 7 million dollars a day. This apartment costs 82 billion dollars a month.

TALIBAN
When I go out tonight, I am going to pick up two guys and hopefully they will be famous and maybe I will let them tag team me.

MOTHER
I’d give you all my money if you wanted it.

FATHER
Your mother works to feed you too, and it isn’t so easy for her, because she is a cyborg, and she makes people nervous at the hospital she works at in the cafeteria because they see her and they are afraid they will be like her, hooked by a machine. She faces prejudice every day. She wants you to have food and she wants you to have insurance, and we want you to live and be good. You do not need to wear your hat sideways. And this is why I will see you in jail when you go out tonight.

TALIBAN
I can’t eat. You want to squirt shit all over satin sheets when they double penetrate me?

MOTHER
I made protein slabs. Your body will absorb most of it, with minimal waste.

TALIBAN
Great.

MOTHER
I made some breadfoam too, but you can skip it.

TALIBAN
My mother is a thing. She exists only to serve me. Right now, I need to douche. Mom, enema time, let’s get the show on the road.

TALIBAN goes into the bathroom with his MOTHER.

FATHER
It was at that time, when the mutations began, and while certain populations were quarantined, others became useful. It was very hard for me back in my homeland of Lithuania. I was always too talkative to live there, and the jobs I had were never very good. I went to school during the Reproductive Wars, and learned how to predict futures, which is what I do now, for the private shadow government. I am only allowed to talk to certain people, and I have to carry a chip in my leg, which gets irritated and needs to be disinfected often, because although I am employed by the powers that be, my status is not that of a citizen, and so that is my fate. All the Lithuanians became psychic. We got flown around the world to be used by corporate interests. We can see everything what is coming, and no one can change it.

Rep Vs Sep: Scenes 1 – 3

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 29, 2010

Seps in the Hideout: Transference

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on July 29, 2010

Tracking the Other Boys

Posted in Uncategorized by alexandrosegade on May 18, 2010

Thirty years later.

Golan 84 fell backwards out of the helicopter and into the outstretched arms of a smokey, sentient cloud, a biomorphous gas entity named Sasha whose job it was to carry the commandos down from the sky.  Sasha, like Golan 82, was designed by the governor to contain the separatist threat.  But like the separatists they hunted, Golan 84 and Sasha too could imagine freedom, and it was nothing like what they were doing right now.

Golan 84.  He was the clone of a clone.

Golan 82. Bio: the subject met the Governor on a special envoy to the Gaza Strip. The Governor initiated a liaison with the soulful, arrogant, young man. Golan 82 was a poetry major at the university and a decorated special ops commando. Transplanted to California, the subject was appointed the Governor’s special security advisor 6 months later.

And now, 30 years have passed and two generations of Golans have come since the first group was dismantled, split into memes, codices, and tropes at a data mine. Now, under Sasha’s shadowy cover, Golan 84 rolled into position.  Taser at the ready, he waited as his satellite earpiece and guide visor processed his immediate surroundings into gridded information.  There was a blue circle glowing in the distance.  All he had to do was follow the arrows.  He tried to think of it only as a signal.  But his immaculate hearing, and aesthetically sensitive brain, interpreted it as music.   The song file playing in an apartment thirty kilometers away…  Upstairs.  There was a boy dancing to it.  His mother was trying to do dishes, but the drugs she was on made it hard for her to concentrate and sometimes she found herself staring out the window distractedly, not quite noticing the hazy blue cloud moving down the street…

Golan 84 turned away from the street, and ran back into Sasha’s billowing embrace.  The cloud could not lift you, only break your fall, he remembered being told in training.  Still, it’s friendly, bubbly-gummy scent reminded him of his youth.  And in the back of his bind was that thing they made us all memorize in school, the diary of the last lovers on earth, a document long believed to be from the future.

Attempted Manifesto 1: Sep Commander Clytemnestro

Posted in science fiction, separatism by alexandrosegade on May 18, 2010

“It’s highly likely that everyone will just die.”  Sep Commander Clytemnestro once noted: “There are too few echelons”

Upper, lower, reflections on the water.  Replicant understanding is a two way mirror.” The Universal Separatist Question is not about Side to Side or even Corner to Corner.

The Universal Separatist Formula is a Diagonal Echelon that cuts through the Mirror in a Diamond Pattern. The etching of the line along the surface of the mirror does not have to cut deep to be visible. a delicate interruption in the appearance is most precise and effective.

Squadron elemental unit, Sep Commander Clytemnestro, lots of static as he dictates to his computer:

  1. I don’t agree with you about anything
  2. I don’t feel connected to you
  3. I don’t know you anymore
  4. I don’t think i ever knew you
  5. I don’t want to be here, among you
  6. I don’t need this anymore
  7. I need to go away
  8. I need to go far way
  9. I need to forget about all of the people and things my eyes see
  10. I only want to see animals
  11. I only want to be with animals
  12. I only want to be alone with animals
  13. I only want to live among the animals
  14. I only want to be killed by animals
  15. And animals do not exist anymore
  16. If a person killed me I would be incredibly angry
  17. If a machine killed me I would feel cheated and angry at the people who made it
  18. If a bear killed me I would be excited
  19. If a person killed me I would be crying, and so angry
  20. I don’t want to be provoked into doing any more damage

Little did he know, as he mused over various directives, that the cryogenic suspension pods were malfunctioning, and the universal separatist manifesto would never, ever be written.

“never stand in line; just leave.”
“if it can be named, it doesn’t exist.”
“don’t even try.”

The Squadron Elemental Unit tested these “aphorisms” in the spreadsheet of his imagination as he died.

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