The collective imaginary and information around the propagation and spread of COVID-19 have radically changed the way we relate to one another, so much so that we perceive encounters with others as a threat. Where does this leave the need to hug, touch and smell one another? How does this situation alter our sexual practices? What new imaginaries shape the current private and public sphere? What drifts will be brought about by mandatory social distancing, curfews and hidden encounters?
This conversation addresses aspects such as desire, contact and risk in times of social distancing, with a primary goal of collectively questioning and re-situating the body as a place of interaction from distant voices, ties and practices.
Pleasure Surfaces picks up on the title of an album by Argentinian band Virus recorded in 1987, at the height of the AIDS epidemic — a disease that affected Federico Moura, the singer, and Daniel Melgarejo, illustrator of the album cover, which displays ambiguous naked blue buttocks. If HIV and AIDS led to a pronounced stigmatisation of non-normative sexual practices, then COVID-19 appears to have, socially speaking, reinstated a climate of fear, condemnation and persecution.
This online encounter is moderated by professor and researcher Nicolás Cuello and features the participation of activist and sex worker Beyoncé; teacher and researcher Vatiu Nicolás Koralsky; writer, poet and journalist Gabriela Wiener; and audiovisual producer and researcher Lucas Disalvo.
Beyoncé is a trans activist, migrant and street sex worker. Her struggles focus on the rights of female sex workers, specifically transexual women, and, in alignment with her activist and resistance-based positions, she is co-founder of Agrupación Feminista de Trabajadoras del Sexo (Feminist Group of Sex Workers, AFEMTRAS)
Nicolás Cuello is a professor and researcher. A research fellow at the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (CONICET), a lecturer at the National University of the Arts, Buenos Aires, and secretary on the Free Chair “Artistic Practices, Sexual Politics”, he is also a founding member of Archivo de Culturas Subterráneas (Archive of Underground Cultures), an archive and classification project for independent cultural productions, and editor of the newspaper La Protesta Sexual. His research centres on the intersection of artistic practices with sexual politics, critical representations of emotions and underground graphic art cultures from the post-dictatorship period in Argentina to the present.
Lucas Disalvo is an audiovisual producer, researcher and teacher with a post-doctoral fellowship at University of La Plata, where he also earned a degree in Audiovisual Arts. Alongside Nicolás Cuello, he co-edited the book Críticas sexuales a la razón punitiva. Insumos para seguir imaginando una vida junt*s (Ediciones Precarias, 2018) and is co-author of Ninguna línea recta. Contraculturas punk y políticas sexuales en Argentina 1984-2007 (Alcohol & Fotocopias/Tren en Movimiento, 2019). His work focuses on trans studies in pornography, sexual and visual politics, fandom cultures, perverse spectatorship, and transformative textual practices, etc.
Vatiu Nicolás Koralsky is a teacher and researcher. In 2017, he received a grant from the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) to work on a residency of training and research in the Programme of Independent Studies (PIE) and in 2019 received a research and innovation grant in Visual Arts from the Regional Government of Catalonia. Moreover, he has participated and collaborated in putting on different exhibitions in the sphere of art and culture, for example Dislocated Archive (MACBA, 2017) and Oscar Masotta. Theory as Action (MACBA, 2018).
Gabriela Wiener is a writer, poet and journalist who has published the following books: Nueve lunas (Marea Editorial, 2009), Llamada perdida (Malpaso, 2014), Ejercicios para el endurecimiento del espíritu (La Bella Varsovia, 2014), Sexografías (Seix Barral, 2015) and Dicen de mí (Esto no es Berlín, 2018), all of which have been translated into different languages. She also writes for an array of publications and newspapers, for instance La República, El Salto, El País and The New York Times Spanish edition. She is currently working on a piece she wrote and stars in: Qué locura enamorarme yo de ti (Falling in Love with You Is Madness) in Teatro del Barrio, Madrid.