democracy, invisibility, and the democratic arts

Emily Roysdon
I've recently become obsessed with the idea of being a Special Guest Star, a champion of multiple celebratory performances. to drop in play the role, make the moves and then entertain another engagement. It sounds pretty good, and well suited to my excitable recently transient life. But it's also attractive because it would allow me to move between the many subject positions that I imagine myself to occupy. With the diversity of venue and audience I could find myself responding to multiple titles and satisfying a variety of requests. This movement is precisely what I desire. What is exhibited in this fantasy is the possibility of performing and articulating the movement between static choices of identity. It’s the movement, all about the action of not quite specifically all the time one or the other that I hope to articulate here. In essence, a fluidity of names and gestures, outfits and pleasures. spaces and meanings. that allow people to encounter their desire (in the pervasive Lacanian sense of the word) in new and unexpected ways over and over again and again.

These moves and performances, the over and over again. I want them to exist in the public sphere. The sliding and shifting a dance. Certainly to be seen, an invisible dance from name to name. My invisibility a commitment to movement. An unending non-teleological way to inhabit my subjectivity that refuses boundaries and denies expectation.

I move through. think through invisibility for a multitude of reasons. lt’s versatile, it’s familiar, it's personal, and it’s productive. It's often been our studio, the place where a of of our art has come from. And it’s also been our meeting ground, as a lot of alliances have been made from invisible territories. I want to imagine these places, the unseen productive holes that we frequent, as democratic spaces. The public, our public. as a democratic community with the fullest glory of this often perverted word as a basis of understanding our private and public performances of agency, identity, and subjectivity.

I realize I have begun to speak of we. of our. Please allow me to imagine myself with a team, although I am quite aware that this could be a private exercise. And in continuing this exercise, I think it would be beneficial if I made clear the terminology.

Democracy a genuine commitment to equality, freedom of association, critical thought, accountability of rulers to citizens. (i love eqbal ahmad), and performance of our own agency
Invisibility 1. an underappreciated state of luminous existence 2.the first stage in the blocking of identification that produces the impulse to struggle and resistance 3. a theory of sliding signifiers

Dramatic arts our lives, our products. The drawings films styles songs and moves made by and for throngs of youthful perverts.

I am hoping to argue for a complex and contradictory definition of invisibility. A definition that acknowledges the many contemporary and historical struggles to emerge into visibility.

Understanding that visibility is often vocabulary, and to receive declared economic human and social rights one must check boxes, pass tests, answer questions, and articulate positions, I see how this formulatlon may seem to threaten the program which has hitherto been activated to procure these rights. For yes, some advancements have been made. Some people are able to assert their rights, incorporate their vocabulary, and build their boundaries. These articulations, these definitions have been useful and helped illuminate certain choices but they should not be fixed for eternity. The way meaning is inscribed in our lives, the way we become what we are named, requires that we recognize and mis-recognize our attributes with productive stimulating language. By constantly re-inscribing ourselves we are calling out our democratic commitments.

Invisibility becomes the freedom to associate. it becomes the dramatization of our rights.

Performance requires a disappearance. lt is an action, or series of events that then disappears, becomes invisible. The subsequent documentation becomes just that, a document of a once visible happening. Our lives (hello team) are dramatic. Queer lives are performative. Often by choice, but also as a result of occupying the position of outsider of other. in the web of signifier/signified. In many theories of identification, one is only aware of their positive qualities by their assessment of what they are not. The way in which I appear likeable to myself is thus defined through my relationship to the Other. The contingency of this relationship makes the movement between signifiers even more potent as a political strategy. The image and name to which people identify is mobilized under the gaze of the Other. A slide that destabilizes and pleads for reiteration. As we have learned, we are constantly performing and repeating the ways if which we appear Iikable to ourselves. This action, this moving towards a complete image of self is movement into. an emergence from. A perpetual emergence produces excess. Our excessive identities produce products. And in this repetitive product on we become our own surplus value. Our labor is invested in criminal capitol. Our gestures, when productive, produce excess.

The structure into which we insert our bodies and our products requests our visibility. lt and They are interested in us as consumers. That means they are interested in all our relationships and our self image. Sexing enters the economy. Excesses become official. And as they name us, they try to incorporate. Again I move through invisibility. I attempt to resist assimilation through perpetual movement. But the traces remain and I will emerge again.

But for now let me return to my unseen hole. My imaginary democratic enclave. A fragrant comfortably light place where our pictures parts songs and sexes can be delighted over. I would like it if we all moved towards this place. I do not know that we will arrive, but as we approach. as we become, our transmorphic pieces about, we are aware of the other side. The side where some vocabulary became vernacular. Where some excessive products got incorporated. This liminal boundary of authenticity. of mastery, of passing, of individuality and of legitimacy is the space where I think our democratic commitments can become dances (l'm romantic). Moving over and between these borders I wonder where my subtlety ends and a boundary begins. Does my product move with me, am I visible between, have I met the requirements for citizenship or residency? Do I have enough of the required characteristics to be a threat? an ally?

I am beginning to see just how dramatic it all really is. Making boundaries is politics, crossing them is drama. My imaginary hole has let me consider productivity and l have produced a document. a record of performance, and verification of drama. I have officially become a constituent of the dramatic arts. My theatre, my public, maybe now l'm a Special Guest Star. But probably not yet. I must emerge again. I wilI need more product, and for this I seek the comfort of the velvet curtain. Backstage, the invisible heart of productivity. Behind the curtains the costumes get changed, utterances are perfected, shoulders are rubbed (yes, we've all been backstage). Brushing between the curtains front to back, to enter and dazzle. A new person each time. lmage transformed by wardrobe, vocabulary, and audience participation.

This show is almost over. We’ve spent enough time rehearsing and room needs to be made for the next wave. But as we rush out into the world, I encourage us to not produce this show as a narrative. Experimental dramas sometimes work you know, and then there could be room for subtexts on people demanding rights, and artists getting a living wage for their labor. There could be operatic interludes, and lingual transgressions. Personally, I’m ready to roll over and reconsider my excessive productivity. My not quite enough, upsidedown, invisible, slow productivity.

what a title. my dramatic arts.