I am currently entangled with ideas of “kinstitutional critique,” in which kinship and family become the subject of critique and, transversely, serve as a platform from which to critique the institutions it mediates. While the formulations of kin are culturally relative to individual and collective position, my relation to family-as-institution follows a broad Enlightenment genealogy presented by Lisa Lowe in Intimacies of Four Continents. This identification, though, is further specified to the American South and North Carolina as a geographic and cultural locator for “kin” that is place-based but never place-bound. Kin is a term that also allows for a set of choices and conditions that may fall outside of traditional legal bonds or bloodlines. As a set of art practices, institutional critique emerged in the 1960s and 70s in tandem with social and political movements seeking to disrupt Enlightenment continuity; kinstitutional critique aims to scale the legacy of such movements to the tenets of institutional power attached to family intimacy. For me, queerness is a primary (not singular) entry for engaging this line of critique, as my own family is ground zero for the production of Otherness, rather than a protection against it. Many of my own questions associated with “identity” (or “affinity” as put forth by Donna Haraway) are couched in the institutional input and output of kinship, which necessarily engages the politics of place.
“Sleep of Desire Produces Mascots” is a video elaborated from an interview with my father about his relationship to Duke University in North Carolina, where he transferred in the 1970s following an unreciprocated confession of love from his gay male friend at University of Richmond. While my father generously and vulnerably reflects on his college experiences -- an evangelical Christian studying music and composition with oblique and distanced relation to
a newly semi-conspicious gay culture in the South -- my own questioning and presence as visibly queer offspring produce an intergenerational and ideological tension (wearing my father’s vintage rainbow “Duke” polo shirt for our interview adds to this). The work’s title references Goya’s famed “Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters,” but this video invokes Duke University’s mascot - the Blue Devil - as institutional drag and ambiguous site for projection and embodiment of desire: repressed, monstrous, campy, or something else entirely. The video also incorporates photos and video footage of Duke’s campus to further haunt an interfamilial history of Southern space-time.
Sleep of Desire Produces Mascots - Video Stills - 2019-2020
Premiered at Hand Art Center for the exhibition, "Over Yonder" curated by Luca Molnar
Topher Lineberry © 2022