Academic journal article Critical Studies

Salomania - Trans and Trans-Temporal: A Queer Archaeology of Destructiveness

Academic journal article Critical Studies

Salomania - Trans and Trans-Temporal: A Queer Archaeology of Destructiveness

Article excerpt

The figure of Salome and the image of her dance have had a particular appeal. They have been taken up by a long list of cultural producers such as Oscar Wilde, Alla Nazimova, Loie Fuller, Aida Walker, or - in a modified version - by the choreographer Yvonne Rainer. Even amid violent social circumstances such as colonial history, homophobia, and Taylorism, the figure of Salome appears to have made it possible to live and fantasize about sexuality and gender outside gender binarism and heteronormativity. This text traces the denormalizing use of the Salome story as a 'desubjectivating mode of subjectivation.' First, appropriations of Salome are approached as 'drag,' or more specifically as 'trans-temporal drag,' which engages with queer chronopolitics seeking to intervene in the self-constitution of western modernity as heterosexual, civilized, and advanced. This does not so much produce any identity or fixed meaning, but ramer dissolves or 'destroys' the connections to fixed identity, to normalization and evidence. Second, I introduce the film installation 'Salomania,' my own artistic reenactment of the Salome story, by which a reflexive gaze is cast on the method of 'queer archeology' mat would make it possible to 'dig up' mese simultaneously destructive and altered practices today for future use.

Scene 1 (1:35 min.):

A person, adult, but still young, with long black hair pulled into a ponytail, enters the room through a door. The camera follows him to where he is standing in front of a microphone, directly facing the camera. He is wearing a white t-shirt with a large face printed on it in black. He begins speaking:

My name is Oscar Wilde,

the whole country knows me.

I choose my friends for their beauty

and my enemies for their intelligence.

On my grave in Paris it is written,

famous for his play Salome and other literary work.

I don 't hide my male lovers. When the situation in town is getting tense,

I go to the colonies, spend the winter in Morocco, where

l ean do as I please.

l am Alia Nazimova.

l am shooting the film Salome.

I am forty-five, and, as you notice by my accent,

lam a Russian immigrant.

I am the richest actress in Hollywood.

Hove women, I don 't hide it. lam directing this film, I produced it, and

I act themain role.

lam Salome, I just turned 14,

I am the Jewish princess of Galilee, today North of Israel.

I will dance for my father in law, Yvonne, in exchange

I can get all I want. I want blood.

The speaker leaves the room through the same door. The camera follows her onto a street at sundown with houses, billboards, cars, palm trees, and the blue silhouettes of mountains in the background.1

The figure of Salome and the image of her dance had a particular appeal at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, and they circulated widely. They were taken up by a long list of well-known cultural producers such as Oscar Wilde, Alia Nazimova, Loie Fuller, or Aida Walker. In England, women met privately to dance Salome's dance, a movement that was called 'Salomania,' as if it were a kind of infection. Shortly after the appearance of the Strauss opera Salome, there was even an article in the New York Times that urged President Roosevelt to prohibit the fad from spilling over into the USA (NYT, August 16, 1908). The various texts and performances are based on the Biblical story of Salome, often in the version by Oscar Wilde, in more or less detail. King Herod desires his youthful stepdaughter Salome. She in turn wants to kiss the preacher John (the Baptist), who rejects her. She opts for a trick, seemingly submitting to Herod's wishes and performing a seductive dance for him only then to demand, abruptly and relentlessly, John's head. Now she can kiss the severed head.

I would like to look into the figure of Salome, since I suspect that, even amid violent social circumstances such as colonial history, homophobia, and Taylorism, this figure made it possible to live and fantasize about sexuality and gender outside gender binarism and heteronormativity, and without resorting to new fixed identity formations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.