Self-curation: gathering images, objects, texts, music, etc. - specifically of interest to oneself - and organizing them into collections or databases is the foundation of my studio practice. I’m constantly looking, searching, collecting, and appropriating. I photograph, download, scan, and screen capture.  Much like the flâneur of the 19th century, I wander, search, and observe in both the real world and the space of the World Wide Web. New media theorist Lev Manovich writes:

Just as the original flâneur of Baudelaire, the virtual flâneur is happiest on the move, clicking from one object to another, traversing room after room, level after level, data volume after data volume. Thus, just as a database form can be seen as an expression of an irrational desire to preserve and store everything, navigable space is not just a purely functional interface. It is also an expression and gratification of psychological desire; a state of being; a subject position — or rather, a subject’s trajectory.[1]

Self-curated collections may appear, at first glance, to be random and disconnected but they likely say a great deal about who we are, what we desire, and what is important to us. Our collections are personal in that they are diaristic. They trace our experiences and scrapbook our memories. Yet they also say a great deal about the desires, values, and interests of the culture at large. They literally map our individual and collective pathways through the network and the world.

          My movement along these pathways has the capacity to link me to self-representations within and outside of normative culture. I may find myself destabilized, neutralized, and disappeared or comforted and empowered.  The repulsion and magnetism, the barricades and passageways, are revelatory of my queerness. As Sara Ahmed points out, “The queer world is a space of entrances, exits, unsystematized lines of acquaintance, projecting horizons, typifying examples, alternate routes, blockages, incommensurate geographies.”[2] The parameters of my searches, what I’m drawn to, the paths I follow, and the ways in which I re-contextualize, re-purpose, re-author, and re-imagine the things that I collect is governed by my unique position… my queer position. My self-curating is a declaration of and access to (re)(dis)orientation.  

 

[1] Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. The MIT Press, Cambridge MA. Revised edition. 2002. Page 274.

[2] Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Duke University Press. Durham NC. 2006. Page 106.