Darkness in the Archives: Queer Opacity as Resistance
Admission is free. Reservations required.
Since the emergence LGBTQ rights movements in the United States, visibility and legibility within the public sphere have remained ideals of political efficacy. However, in our current moment, how does the corporatization of political dissent and the growing sophistication of policing and surveillance affect our understanding of queerness and political resistance? In response to these pressing issues, artist Zach Blas will examine forms of refusal, negativity, and the antisocial as uniquely relevant to our contemporary moment, proposing that opacity is a crucial activist, aesthetic, and theoretical tactic of queer subjectivity in the 21st century.
Presented by USC Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative. Organized by ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries.
Zach Blas is an artist and writer whose practice confronts technologies of capture, security, and control with minoritarian politics. Currently, he is a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. Blas has exhibited and lectured internationally, recently at Whitechapel Gallery, London; ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; e-flux, New York; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; New Museum, New York; Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; and transmediale, Berlin. Residencies include Eyebeam in New York, The Moving Museum Istanbul, The Banff Centre, and the Delfina Foundation in London. Blas’s recent works respond to technological control, biometric governmentality, and network hegemony. Facial Weaponization Suite (2011-14) consists of “collective masks” that cannot be detected as human faces by biometric facial recognition software. Contra-Internet (2014-present) explores subversions of and alternatives to the internet and is supported by a 2016 Creative Capital award in Emerging Fields. Blas is producing two books, Escaping the Face, an artist monograph to be published by Sternberg Press, and Informatic Opacity: The Art of Defacement in Biometric Times, a theoretical study that considers biometric facial recognition as an emerging form of global governance alongside aesthetico-political refusals of recognition, such as masked protest. Blas has published writings in Documentary Across Disciplines (The MIT Press and Haus der Kulturen der Welt); Queer: Documents of Contemporary Art (The MIT Press and Whitechapel Gallery); Little Joe; Journal of Aesthetics and Protest; You are Here: Art after the Internet (Cornerhouse Books); DIS Magazine; Women Studies Quarterly (The Feminist Press); and co-edited micha cárdenas’ The Transreal: Political Aesthetics of Crossing Realities (Atropos Press). His work has been written about and featured in Artforum, Art Review, Frieze, Art Papers, Hyperallergic, Mousse Magazine, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, and Wired. Blas holds a PhD from the Program in Literature at Duke University and a MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles.