do you host?

Event by Eliel Jones hosted by Kem at Dragana Bar

do you host? is an evening of readings, film and performance on queer hospitality. The event is a result of research and conversations conducted by London-based writer and curator Eliel Jones while on a curatorial residency as part of ReDirecting: East at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art.

The event features work by: Alvin Baltrop, Ryszard Kisiel (performed by Agata Grabowska), Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings, Billy Morgan, Karol Radziszewski, Gayle Rubin (performed by Joseph Funnel), Kenneth Tam and Ian White (performed by Alex Baczynski-Jenkins).

The curated program, do you host?, takes as a point of departure the practice of hosting as an embedded part of queer communities and phenomenologies. The event also responds to the context of Warsaw at a moment when cultural institutions are attempting to work with, and to host, LGBTQI groups, artists and related projects.

Asking what may be at stake in the process of hosting and being hosted, do you host? considers the subject of hospitality within two specific lenses. Firstly, it dives into the conditions that are intrinsic to hosting practices aimed at fulfilling sexual desire. This is explored through a performative reading of Gayle Rubens’ The Catacombs: The Temple of the Butthole (1991/2012), brought to life by Joseph Funnel, moving image works by artists Karol Radziszewski and Kenneth Tam, and the re-staging of a seminal work by the late artist Ian White, IBIZA: A reading for ‘The Flicker’, first performed in 2008 and here re-enacted by artist and choreographer Alex Baczynski-Jenkins. These works provide visions of pleasure in relation to labour, negotiation, ritual, maintenance, exclusion, permission and display. Together, they enunciate a practice of radical hospitality where queer desire transgresses normative forms of behaviour and encounter.

Secondly, do you host? seeks to question what is at stake in the production of queer spaces, as well as the urgent need for new forms of hospitality. The decision to host the event in the context of the recently opened queer summer bar, Dragana, by Kem as part of their year-long residency at U–jazdowski is itself an exercise to titillate such concerns. A presentation of clips from artists Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings’ UK Gay Bar Directory (2015–2016), images from photographer Alvin Baltrop’s The Piers (1975-1986), and a reading of texts by Billy Morgan and Ryszard Kisiel–former Editor of Filo Magazine, the first, though now defunct, gay editorial publication in Eastern Europe– provide topographic-like records of queer place making. From the ‘there and then’ to the ‘here and now’, the featured material vouches for the appropriation and use of public sites as strategies for survival. Simultaneously, these artists and writers reflect on the potential danger faced by inherently-queer hosting practices–such as cruising, or the radical cultures of gay bars and clubs–to be diluted or disappear as a result of the precarious current social, economic and political moment.

do you host? pulls both from Polish and international contexts to enact a queer hospitality based on solidarity. The event hopes to acknowledge site-specific concerns whilst also paying attention to a larger, structural, queer issue of hospitality. do you host? ultimately addresses these differences by seeking to create a safe space for stimulating, recreational and affective nourishment for LGBTQI peoples and allies.

– Eliel Jones