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Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde
Institute of Contemporary Arts
Courtesy Isabel Waidner

Presented by writer Isabel Waidner, this evening of readings and discussion interrogates queerness and class in interdisciplinary writing and publishing in the UK, featuring presentations by Mojisola Adebayo, Ray Filar, Roz Kaveney, Huw Lemmey, and Kashif Sharma-Patel. 

Departing from a new text by Waidner commissioned by the ICA on the occasion of I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker, Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde explores the ongoing marginalisation of interdisciplinary working class, LGBTQI+, Black and POC writers in relation to the historical elitism of the British publishing establishment. The rise of alternative publishing and community-building practices (e.g. The 87 Press, Team Angelica, Dostoyevsky Wannabe) which underpin the current moment will also be discussed.

Class, Queers and the Avant-Garde is specifically not about Kathy Acker. Arguably, we are currently seeing an unprecedented insurgence of marginalised writers making connections between literature, art, performance, critical theory, fashion and music, and queer, working-class and diasporic cultures and lives – this event is about them.

In conversation with cultural theorist Angela McRobbie at the ICA in 1987, Kathy Acker repeatedly referred to her status as an exception or token in British publishing: the one postmodernist avant-garde writer, the one writer connecting fiction with critical theory and subcultural contexts, the one transgressive allowed in at the time. 

Did Acker-tokenism in the 80s and 90s enable the publishing establishment to give the appearance of risk-taking and inclusivity, rather than make the structural changes required to address its classism and normativity long-term?

This event forms part of the I, I, I, I, I, I, I, Kathy Acker programme.
Mojisola Adebayo is a playwright, director and performer. She is currently writing Wind/Rush for the National Theatre. Publications include Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One (Oberon), '48 Minutes for Palestine' in Theatre in Pieces (Methuen), and 'The Interrogation of Sandra Bland' in Black Lives, Black Words (Oberon). Plays Two (Oberon) is out in 2019. 

Ray Filar is a performer and writer. Their work brings together creative writing, theory and artistic practice, and explores feminism, sexuality, subcultures and anti-capitalism. They are a PhD Student in Creative Writing and Gender Studies at the University of Sussex. Recently on tour with Camden Peoples’ Theatre, their current show, Non-Binary Electro Hour, is about queer iconography, genderfuck drag and in-between spaces. 

Roz Kaveney is a poet, novelist and cultural commentator whose works range from a critical study of American high school movies (Teen Dreams, 2006) to a verse translation of Catullus to the award-nominated collection Dialectic of the Flesh (2012). Tiny Pieces of Skull, her 1980s novel of 70s trans street life was belatedly published in 2015 and won a Lambda.

Huw Lemmey writes on sexuality, cities and history. He is the author of Red Tory and Chubz, and has written for Tribune, Architectural Review, New Humanist and The Guardian, among others. He is the co-host of the history podcast Bad Gays.

Kashif Sharma-Patel is a poet and writer. They are the co-founder and events organiser of poetry press The 87 Press. Their debut poetry book Dreaming Death is forthcoming. They also write freelance in the area of music, culture and art.

Isabel Waidner is a writer and cultural theorist. Their books include We Are Made Of Diamond Stuff (2019), Gaudy Bauble (2017) and Liberating the Canon: An Anthology of Innovative Literature (ed., 2018), published by Dostoyevsky Wannabe. They are the co-curator of the event series Queers Read This at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (with Richard Porter), and a lecturer at University of Roehampton, London.

Should you feel unable to attend this event for financial reasons or if there is anything we can do to make it easier for you to attend, please get in touch by emailing access@ica.art or calling 020 7930 3647.
07:00 pm
Thu, 23 May 2019
£7 Full, £5 Concs.

Live recording:

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Essay by Isabel Waidner