Often called “the father of queer theory,” Guy Hocquenghem is a critical theorist, polemicist, novelist, and activist - a key figure in the history of gay liberation and in the development of a revolutionary queer politics and culture. Born in 1946, Hocquenghem participated in the 1968 student rebellion in France, joining the Communist Party, before being expelled for homosexuality. A founding member of FHAR (Homosexual Front for Revolutionary Action), Hocquenghem had a significant impact on leftist thinking and queer movements in France. Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Hocquenghem developed a revolutionary and liberating theory of sexuality. His Homosexual Desire, published in 1972, is frequently cited as the first work of queer theory.
Artists Space, in partnership with the queer film series Dirty Looks, recently presented a new translation overseen by Bruce Benderson of the 1979 experimental documentary Race d’Ep! (previously released in English as The Homosexual Century). Made by Hocquenghem, in collaboration with radical filmmaker Lionel Soukaz, Race d’Ep! traces the confluence between the development of photography in the 19th Century, and subsequent representations of homosexual desire. The film was accompanied by the publication Race d’Ep!: Un Siecle D’Images de l’Homosexualite by Hocquenghem, and moves from the nudes of Baron von Gloeden and early sexology, to gay liberation and cruising on the streets of Paris in the 1970s.
Race d’Ep! was deemed scandolous upon its release, censored and classified as a pornographic film under the “X Law.” A petition in defense of the film was launched, with signees including Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Marguerite Duras, Simone de Beauvoir, Patrice Chéreau, and Cahiers du Cinéma, among others, opposing its persecution and censorship by the government. Michel Foucault wrote a letter to the Ministry of Culture on behalf of Race d’Ep!, stating that “this documentary is based on historical research whose seriousness and interest I had the chance to prove,” going on to observe, “it seems strange for a film about homosexuality to be penalized when it tries to remember the persecutions of which the Nazi regime has been responsible.”
Dirty Looks is a roaming screening series held principally on the last Wednesday of each month. Curated by Bradford Nordeen, Dirty Looks is designed to trace contemporary queer aesthetics through historical works, presenting quintessential GLBT film and video alongside up-and- coming artists and filmmakers. Filling a gap in the regular programming of Queer experimental work in the New York film community, Dirty Looks exhibits a lineage of queer tactics and visual styles for younger artists, casual viewers and seasoned avant-garde filmgoers, alike. A salon of influences, Dirty Looks is an open platform for inquiry, discussion and debate.
Source - Artists Space