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21.05.2020

kuir confinements: making an anti-normative gesture out of living

Thinking about the implications of the intimacy that confinement brings, researcher and curator aliwen proposes a critical reading of the normativity inside the house based on the analysis of two performance artists, Lorenza Böttner and Hija de Perra, who “kuirized” the private to claim their dissident existence.

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Notes

  1. I would like to thank Diego del Valle Ríos for inviting me to participate in this issue of Terremoto, for his constant kindness, and for his kuir provocations. I would also like to thank Lorena Ormeño, Wincy Oyarce, and Mario Soro, who welcomed me to share in their intimate memories, including me both through oral story-telling and by allowing me to explore their personal archives to string to together the story of these rebellious figures.

  2. This acronym refers to Lesbians, Gays, Trans*, Bisexuals, Intersexuals, Asexuals/Allies, Kuirs and other non-hegemonic sexes and genders. Several different acronyms, including TLGB or LGBTI, for example, are used to describe to this community depending on the region of Abya Yala. “Abya Yala” is a term used by some indigenous peoples of North and South America to refer to both continents, as an ideological move away from using the names imposed on the region by colonizing powers.

  3. “LGBTI people in Chile: 38% reports an increment in homo/transphobia at their homes and neighborhoods after COVID” in MOVILH, April 15, 2020:

  4. Here I am invoking the sudaca (a sometimes derogatory term which means “South American,” but which here is deployed in an act of appropriation) and slang term for “queer,” a different mode of inscription within the turn to international identity-positivity, one that seeks to establish an alternate category for those kuir corporeities that have not been assimilated into discourses of biomedical binaries, nor by homonormativity “in which multiculturalism, with its flexible separation of sexual identities reduced to particularities, returns these easily assimilable identities back to the neoliberal market of pleasures and desires that depoliticizes activist struggles with its menu of consumer choices” [Translator’s translation]. For more, see Nelly Richard, “Realismo socialista” Torcida, May 6, 2020,

    I am picking up the thread of reflections of one of the performers whom I visited, Hija de Perra, who defined herself in 2012 at the Third Fair of Queer Art in Mendoza as “a new Latina mestiza from South America who never expected to be taxonomically identified as queer, but who now fits perfectly into this classification in the eyes of gender theorists and according to the new knowledge, studies, and reflections that have come from the North, which proposes this or that botanical name for my extravagant species labeled a minority,” quoted in Hija de Perra, “Interpretaciones inmundas de cómo la Teoría queer coloniza nuestro contexto sudaca…” en Punto Género, no. 4, (December 2014): 11.

  5. With this point, I hope to establish a dialogue with the art historian Élisabeth Lebovici, who returns to the concept of “extimacy” to articulate her reading of the intersections between the artistic practices and activism surrounding HIV/AIDS at the end of the eighties and throughout the nineties. She writes, “The notion of intimacy (as well as the Lacanian concept of “extimacy”) has become part of cultural space. It is to this that the proliferation of “solo” dances and the performances of the I attest. […] It is to this that the intimist images—associated with scrupulous examinations of the quotidian, of the banal—attest, seething, and festering in sculptural creation, in the movies. […] All these modalities have set a scene of the intimate, as if it were also necessary to break with the supposed neutrality of the space of representation and draw a new configuration, one where the limits between interior and exterior, between the private sphere and public space, become even more porous like that porosity which seropositivity and the epidemic produced.” Élisabeth Lebovici, “Estar allí. Un recorrido muy parcial por las exposiciones europeas y el activismo contra el sida a finales del siglo XX,” in Sida (MACBA: Barcelona, 2020), 34. Translator’s translation.

  6. “la walkiria trunca” roughly translates to “the armless valkyrie.”

  7. No author, “Ernst Böttner, un muchacho ejemplar” Mampato 198, November 7, 1973: 42, cited in Ángeles Mateo del Pino, “Subjetividad transtullida. El cuerpo/corpus de Lorenza Böttner” Anclajes 23, no. 3 (2019): 37-57.

  8. See Francisca García, “Berlín, ‘Cirugía plástica’: historia de una controversia,” in Ensayos de artes visuales, vol. 7, “El arte chileno más allá de sus fronteras” (Santiago, Chile: Centro de Documentación de las Artes Visuales, 2019, 28.

  9. Roughly translated, this means “the bitch of the living room.”

  10. Many radical gender-variant activists and thinkers of Abya Yala insist on using the word “transvestite” to define our gender-nonconformity, though this term is considered derogatory and outdated in the Global North. This is a strategy of appropriating an insult with which we have been stigmatized in our own context (in the same way that “queer” was used in the anglophone world), while also decolonizing the normalized North-South transference of activist discourse and academic theory by choosing a term that makes globalized audiences uncomfortable while continuing to make sense within our own history of suffering and political memory.

  11. Some of these photographs were taken at the Cabaret Chiquitibum festival, organized by Denisse “Suelta” Castillo, Wincy Oyarce, Wally Pérez, and Matilde “Perdida” Plaza, among others. This festival was begun in 2002 as a private event where the group of friends could perform for each other. That same year it became a public event located on land belonging to a chicken refrigeration plant near the Pan-American highway in San Miguel where Wally lived. It was here that Hija de Perra made her first public debut. The event was very popular, so the group formed an alliance with another important underground party from the period called Bizarre, which took place on the Calle Fanor Velasco in the center of Santiago. The Chiquitibum in San Miguel came to an end in 2007, but continued on in other locations, organizing themselves as the Cabaret Chiquitibum Collective or Company until approximately 2010. It is worth mentioning that the photographer Lorena “Lagata” Ormeño continued to collaborate with La Perra on different projects throughout her life. Among many projects, she worked as the photographer for the music videos for Obey My Orders with the singer Felipink and Sexy puta by the Tíos Bizarros, and documented street protests like that of the XIII Marcha por la Diversidad Sexual, all in 2011.

  12. The Centro Arte Alameda was recently burned to the ground when police threw more than 70 tear gas bombs at the building and its surroundings on December 27, 2019, a day of many public protests against the increasing precarity of life under neoliberalism in Chile.

  13. This trend can be seen reflected in the sayings of the businessman behind the character RuPaul, who refuses to allow people who were assigned a female gender at birth to participate in the televised drag competition Dr*g R*ce, saying, “Drag loses its sense of danger and its sense of irony once it’s not men doing it because at its core it’s a social statement and a big f-you to male-dominated culture. So for men to do it, it’s really punk rock, because it’s a real rejection of masculinity.” This statement further demonstrates that barring biological women from the show contradicts the idea that Dr*g R*ce is an affront to “male-dominated culture,” which is further clarified when he explains that the same fate awaits transgender women. He states, “You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body. It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned.” Decca Aitkenhead, “RuPaul: ‘Drag is a big f-you to male-dominated culture’” The Guardian, March 3, 2018:

  14. It was the post-structuralist Roland Barthes who coined the term “punctum” to designate that “sting, speck, cut, little hole—and also a cast of the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).” Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1980 [2010]), 59.

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