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comme ci comme ça: On Becoming Archival Queers

“Queerness” does not simply signify a non-heterosexual identity, but rather challenges the normalizing mechanisms of gender and interrogates the social processes that produced, normalized and sustained identity in the first place. A “queer archive,” therefore, is not synonymous with an LGBT archive. It is one that reconsiders the structures, process and methodologies that have constituted the archive, and questions the discourses that have perpetually fostered its fetishization as a locus of knowledge production.

Queer archives, in their very existence, critique the normativizing practices of collection and circulation of records, and initiate an intervention against the protocols of historiography. Queer historians have championed new methods of historiography and embraced the creation of eclectic, idiosyncratic and transient archives, which include ephemera, gossip, innuendos, emotions, performative acts, physical gestures, fleeting moments, clandestine languages and methods or anti-methods that rely on counterintuitive juxtapositions of narratives and materials, and unsettle the traditional notion of the archive.

“comme ci comme ça: On Becoming Archival Queers” is a 10-week workshop led by artist and filmmaker Mohammad Shawky Hassan. Through readings, discussions, screenings and guest lectures, we will will survey some of those methods in an attempt to problematize the relationship between “queerness” and the “document” in the broadest sense of the term, with an emphasis on practices emerging outside the racial and sexual mainstream, and how they negotiate with established theoretical frameworks and institutional limitations. We will also think through some of the possible interpretations of “queerness” in a variety of sociopolitical contexts, and how they would in turn alter the configuration of an archive.

The workshop is participatory, discussion-based, multi-disciplinary and open to artists, writers, researchers and others with interest and/or experience in the subject matter. Sessions will start on October 14th and will take place online weekly through December 16th every Wednesday from 6pm to 9pm.

Mohammad Shawky Hassan is a filmmaker living and working between Cairo and Berlin. Shawky’s work has been shown at the Berlinale, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), HKW, MUCEM, Sursock Museum and Contemporary Image Collective (CIC) among others. He completed his MA in philosophy in 2016 at the American University in Cairo, where he wrote his thesis titled “On the Limitations of the Archive: Affective Traces, Sensible Intensities and the Humming Background Noise of the Universe.”

The workshop will be held in English.

Registration and Attendance

The number of participants is limited (15 persons). Half of the group should be residents of Berlin.

Registration deadline is October 1, 2020. Download registration form
Please note that only the first 40 applications can be considered.

Attendance fee: 120 Euro / 100 Euro (members, students, Berlin-Pass) / 90 Euro (members of arsenal-Freundeskreis). Furthermore, three scholarships will be granted.

Nathalie Knoll, Markus Ruff

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur