Queer Giving: An audio-visually guided shared ethnography of the Wotever Vision

Queer Giving is the material realisation of a practice-led research project into contemporary radical queer ways of being. It is one thesis composed of the film Mirror Mirror and the paper One Queer Gift. They are derivatives of my ethnographic investigation into the radical queer vision of London’s Club Wotever (2003-). Working within the potentials of their respective forms, both film and paper argue that radical queer identities, as found in the major urban centres of the metropolitan West, derive their multiple-meanings, integrity and raison d’etre within and through dialogue. Characterised by audio-visual provocation and cautious disclosure, Mirror Mirror reflects this formative feedback through its text and narrative drive.

My practice is grounded in the shared anthropological work of ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch. In 1974, he placed a call for the audio-visual counter gift as a stimulant for mutual understanding and a route to the heart of knowledge. Rouch’s vision parallels that of my ethnographic field site. Just as London’s newest queer club played host to people of all genders and sexualities, the praxis of shared anthropology heartily welcomes in its subjects. Exploiting the radical nature of the audio-visual counter gift, the intention of this thesis is to convey a new confidence integral to contemporary queer identities, of which I have been the privileged beneficiary, witness and host.

Where Mirror Mirror’s primary audience is its protagonists, in One Queer Gift I turn my attention to the texts and arguments of academics and filmmakers who represent contemporary queers. I contend that a researcher’s methodology and form of representation must be sympathetic to their subject’s ways of being. For projects whose focus is queer identities I suggest that their research should be built upon sensuous and corporeal ways of knowing and structurally encourage engagement and dialogue. Furthermore the researcher should: interrogate the manifestations of all borders inclusive of the researcher/subject separation; be hospitable to all positions temporary, transient and/or challenging; be reflexive and take responsibility for the consequences of each address.