Sunday was a long day, spent celebrating birthdays with Lolita, Thor and Patrick. The two latter are our Leo pals who trade joint celebrations with us Aquarius/Pisces types. This year they scheduled a series of meals, exhibits movies and shows. Starting at Pondicheri for brunch and ending with Justin Sayre’s queer cabaret at Joe’s Pub near midnight.
In between was a thorough exploration of the current shows at The Museum of Sex and a screening of the Oscar nominated animated shorts. Oh and cupcakes and ramen.
Running through the whole day was a thread of pageantry, dressing up, and the disruptive power of sexual honesty. I thought about this a lot in the Leonor Fini show at MoSEX, where it seemed clear that much of her obscurity as a figure in the history of modernism has to do with her frank polyamory and sexual agency. I first heard about Fini from my friend Jonathan Hammer while we were at Bard, but in my mind I kept confusing her with Leonora Carrington, which was just sloppy thinking.
Seeing Fini’s work brought together made the case for her as a much more careful constructor of a public persona , one that was articulated through imagery , performance and photography. She drew from the same well as Cocteau, and was part of the the orbit of Genet, Bataille and other sexually focussed writers. When I saw posters for the show at MoSex, I was skeptical, mostly because i know how constrained their space and resources are, but seeing this show reminds me how hard most art institutions work to erase sex from their shows. This erasure is especially apparent in situations where the sexuality is not mainstream. Many of the students I work with these days are groping for a visual language to match the complexity of their identifications, but they wouldn’t think to cite Fini or look to MoSex as a location that would be helpful for them.
It may be that I’m seizing on this images because for the past few years I’ve been thinking about the importance of explicit, public appearances, of reasserting our queer dissonances in the flow of streets and events, of dressing up for ourselves and for each other. Both the Fini and Punk shows at MoSex are part of that trajectory as well as brilliance of Sayre’s event at the public.
Then best gifts are those that remind you of everything you have yet to do, so thank you Thor and Patrick for setting it all up and thank you Lolita for your ongoing co-conspiracy.