Repetition and Difference: Julia Bryan-Wilson on LTTR

By Bryan-Wilson, Julia | Artforum International, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Repetition and Difference: Julia Bryan-Wilson on LTTR


Bryan-Wilson, Julia, Artforum International


"IT IS OUR PROMISCUITY that will save us," AIDS activist and art theorist Douglas Crimp asserted in 1988, defying the media's brutal vilification of gay sex--in which a devastating health crisis was portrayed as punishment for pleasure--by arguing that gay men's sexual flexibility would help them adapt to safer sex. While the AIDS crisis continues, albeit cushioned for some by the effects of life-extending drugs, it is nevertheless difficult to render Crimp's claim intelligible today. The value of promiscuity considered literally, as Crimp did, seems impossible to imagine given the profound conservatism of much of the contemporary gay and lesbian movement. (The terms of public discourse have changed, clearly, when debates focus on the participation of gays in the institutions of marriage and the military.) Gay couples have perhaps become more tolerated in US society, but other queer practices and community formations have arguably become more limited. Given the current narrow visions of queerness, though, there are still lessons to be learned from Crimp's promotion of flexibility, openness, and diverse encounters.

The embrace of a kind of promiscuity has driven the New York-based collective LTTR from the outset. LTTR is a shifting acronym; it started in 2001 as "Lesbians to the Rescue," a superhero slogan if ever there was one, and has since stood for phrases ranging from "Lacan Teaches to Repeat" to "Let's Take the Role." Just as the words behind its initials vary, so too do its membership and output. Founded by Ginger Brooks Takahashi and K8 Hardy, LTTR has been joined by Emily Roysdon and Ulrike Muller; all four have ongoing individual practices as artists, video makers, writers, and/or performers, and they frequently participate in other artistic and activist projects. While LTTR began as a collectively edited and produced journal, the group now also organizes screenings, exhibitions, performances, read-ins, and workshops. The original phrase "Lesbians to the Rescue" suggests that someone, or something, needs to be saved (the phrase is missing only an exclamation point to drive home its campy urgency)--and it is clear from the excited, even libidinal ethos of its projects that LTTR sees this redemption as rooted in desire.

In a political climate tinged by anger, defeatism, and the persistent shaming of unruly forms of queerness, LTTR's objective is a generosity based in exuberance. It is, in other words, with a purposeful critical promiscuity that LTTR puts itself forward. As Samuel R. Delany explains in Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999), a hybrid memoir/theoretical investigation of the effects of gentrification on gay public sex in New York, it is the small exchanges of goodwill, modeled for him in the practices of casual sex, that make life "rewarding, productive, and pleasant." The group's open calls for submissions and the multiple audiences of its live events exhibit its willingness to engage those with whom the artists might not otherwise come into contact. Promiscuity, whether sexual or--in the case of LTTR as an organization--curatorial, generates all-important moments of unexpected connection.

Brooks Takahashi wrote in an editorial note for the first issue of LTTR's journal that the project was generated out of eager curiosity, a way "to share our big love for the homos." The term homo is used in its loosest sense--LTTR explicitly refuses strict self-definitions--and this expanded meaning is quickly discerned in the journal's makeup: LTTR's critical promiscuity emphasizes bringing different bodies together across race, gender, and generation. Likewise, the contents of the journal do not conform easily to categories, and often blur the lines of art, criticism, and fiction. In the four issues produced to date (each printed in a limited edition of one thousand copies and distributed mostly in independent bookstores), contributors have included emerging artists, transgender activists, punk musicians, and established scholars. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Repetition and Difference: Julia Bryan-Wilson on LTTR
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    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.