John Paul Ricco

Edging, Drawing: Queer Spatial Praxis of the Common” [ENG]


Abstract: Bodies are exorbitant extremities, and not enclosed and discrete or “embodied” entities. This is just one of the reasons why we do not speak of a body having a centre or margins. Ontologically speaking, any material-physical thing that is open and always in excess of its limits is a body. Thus not only are there non-human and inorganic bodies, just as there are human bodies, but the matter of bodies and how they come to matter and mean, happens in those indeterminate and undecidable zones where it is often impossible to know where one body begins and another ends. Edge is the name that we might give for this shared spacing, there where bodies partake in a sense of the intimacy of the outside. In my paper I consider works by three contemporary artists, Francisco-Fernando Granados, Shaan Syed, and Sarah Kabot, in which a performative praxis of drawing traces the non-mediating line of the edge as the space-time of the common—its tense, tension and extension. In the public performance of repetitively tracing a facial profile (Granados), or a portrait of lost lover posted on city streets (Syed), or in which all of the lines in a public bathroom are shifted by half-an-inch (Kabot), these works peri-performatively open up spaces around bodies, and places and things. Spaces that are virtual rather than possible, inoperative rather than productive, anonymous rather than identitarian. Indeterminate zones but never empty voids, these edgings are where appearing and disappearing, becoming and unbecoming persist as the immeasurable infinities that they are. The sense and experience (aisthesis) of the common lies in the pleasures and risks of our affinities to these edges.


Bio: John Paul Ricco’s work on social-sexual ethics and aesthetics lies at the intersection of art history, continental philosophy, queer theory, and architecture. He is the author of The Logic of the Lure (University of Chicago Press, 2003)—the first published monograph in queer theoretical art history—and The Decision Between Us: Art & Ethics in the Time of Scenes (Chicago, 2014). He is currently completing a third book in this trilogy on “the intimacy of the outside,” titled: The Outside Not Beyond: Pornographic Faith and the Economy of the Eve. Ricco is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, Media Theory, and Culture in the Department of Visual Studies, and Graduate Professor in the Centre for Comparative Literature, at the University of Toronto. He is a 2015-16 Faculty Research Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto, where he will pursue a research project on “The Collective Afterlife of Things.”