Queer Crit Potluck is an interdisciplinary critique class that employs queer theory to discuss each student’s work. Each class includes a dinner break for a changing potluck of shared meals. Sharing and providing meals for one another extends the critical conversation beyond the direct interrogations of the art object to engaging the ideas over kitchen tasks and the bounty of our culinary creations. Through eating, cooking and critiquing we dance upon the content, theory and construction of community within a queer discourse. Like Emma Goldman, we don’t want to be a part of a revolution without joy.
We queer subjects and objects through the centers and peripheries of our fluid social, political and animal identities. This semester we talked about nature around the dinner table; the fig wasp and it’s cycle, the caterpillar migration for the sphinx moth, succulents and desert blooms, coyotes in the back yard. Films, television and our different obsessions with actors and blogs have provided a playful set of references for our conversations about the failures of understanding. Our meals are as much about the ideas that they deliver as the actual food that lays before us. Some have brought family dishes to share with them and the cultural context becomes the conversation; Louis’ deeply pungent enchiladas, a Mardi Gras feast complete with King Cake, or the spare water pea and corn soup that Ace cooked for herself when her parents were working late.
The copy of the magazine Elle I found in the dentist’s office has a “Recipe for Success” column. For its simplistic demographic, this is not a joke. For the artists in Queer Crit Potluck—keenly aware of the pressures for fame and financial success in the cultural field—such recipes can only be received with a critical distance. For Starship, rather than collect recipes from the class, we will make a series of instructions for what we bring to the table, metaphorically. What will follow are individual recipes, starter packs, invocations and even a hex to protect your space.
These sets of instructions refuse assimilation to be more inclusive of class, racial, biographical, language and hybrid identities as they produce difference and discourse. Lately, feminism has been embraced on the runway from Chanel to Dior, it is clear that the language of the politics of the personal has been co-opted as a mainstream style trend. The revival of Alix Dobkin’s 1970s lesbian separatist slogan “The Future Is Female” has been adopted by multiple genders and ages and I doubt that many remember (or ever knew) either the fierceness of its angry demand or the radicality of its proposal. Perhaps that is just the problem and the source of our alienation; one-size feminism does not fit all—it never did. The queer crit exists so we can talk about it from all our different positions—from under the rock, lounging about with our elbows on the table and sneaking into the room from around the corner.