There is No Key Note

Academic lecture, participatory flower arranging action, 2018.

“For many of us, our attraction to, and engagement with flowers and plant life is more elemental than intellectual, our intimacies with flowers and plant life are central to the ways we live, think and create. We turn to the botanical world to mediate human relations, to observe and understand the cycle of life, for inspiration on how to adorn ourselves, how to flirt, how to dance and how to wither and die. We see the true natures of our genders and sexualities in the polyform stamens and petals of flowers, a reflection of our queer kinship formations in the cruisy, meandering growth patterns of ivy and bougainvillea.” 

A participatory performance action offered in lieu of a keynote address at the Imagine Queer conference at Newcastle University. The action aimed to orchestrate and aestheticise a polyphonic situation that shared the power of the keynote among participants.

Participants were invited to collectively arrange flowers, recite texts of their choice, and to leave the performance space whenever they wanted, thus co-authoring the conculsion of the conference, whose aim was to explore “the radical potential of queerness now”.

Central to the action’s conceptualisation was staging a way for Nemer to withdraw from the position of power afforded to him as closing keynote speaker.

The gesture employed a polyphonic, participatory aesthetics through which to redistribute power more equitably, while proposing a strategy informed by queer histories of withdrawal and sublimation for my retreat.