Remembering Queer Futures
Remembering Queer Futures engages with the archive of film and video around queer AIDS activism in the 1980s and ‘90s and the modes of queer cultural production through which this archive has been (re)animated since. The urgent need for countering misinformation and documenting the movement in the face of death and government negligence resulted in a vast “archive of feelings” (Ann Cvetkovich 2003) that chronicles the everyday practices of resistance, refusal, and world-making that emerged both despite and in response to the AIDS crisis. Starting around 2008, there has been a renewed surge in cultural production around HIV/AIDS, termed “AIDS Crisis Revisitation” by Ted Kerr, which revisits and reworks these materials as it grapples with the task of memorialising the early days of AIDS activism while also attending to present-day AIDS as an ongoing crisis.
I argue that through mobilising specific video editing and screening practices, some of these audiovisual recollections of AIDS activism scramble linear temporalities and p/re/enact a culture of relational possibility — a variety of ways of relating to, caring for, and loving one another beyond and against the norms of straight relationality — which characterised the sociality of radical queer activism in the ‘80s and ‘90s. As such, these works often refuse to remember AIDS activism solely in terms of trauma, grief, and anger, rather allowing for loving practices of queer world-making to emerge as pockets of utopian promise and thus to function as a snag in conventional progress narratives that juxtapose the tragic past with the supposedly liberated present. By exploring the set of affects that is stimulated by these works as a form of utopian nostalgia — a longing that is not primarily oriented around ‘what was’ but rather towards ‘what was once thought possible’ — I further consider the ways in which queer spectatorship functions as an affective speculative practice through which cross-temporal links, modes of queer relationality, and visions of an otherwise are generated and proliferated.
Josefine Hetterich received her BA in Theatre, Film and Media Studies and Sociology from the Goethe University, Frankfurt, and her MA in Gender, Media and Culture from Goldsmiths College, London. She is a staff member, lecturer, and PhD candidate in Film Studies at the Goethe University. Her research explores the intersection of queer cultural production and theory, feminism, critical race theory, and affect studies with a focus on critical and creative methodologies that embrace the fabulous, the speculative, and the ephemeral. Her PhD project, entitled Remembering Queer Futures, engages with audiovisual documents of AIDS activism and interrogates practices of cultural memory, queer relationality, communities of care, and the scrambled temporalities of queer world-making. In her teaching, she is concerned with feminist, intersectional, and decolonial pedagogies and the politics of knowledge production in the classroom and beyond.