Skopje Pride Weekend addresses Queer Chronopolitics

Karol Radziszewski, “Remembering Futures”. Photo: Viktor Irvin Ivanov

This years’ edition of the Skopje Pride Weekend (June 1.-13., 2023) focusses on the relationship between queerness, time and history. Under the title “QUEER CHRONOPOLITICS: History, Affects, Utopias” the festival is drawing on the observation that time is not an apolitical concept but deeply connected to politics, that there is a politics of time as well as a time of politics. The curatorial focus lies on Eastern Europe and the field of arts, with an exhibition by Karol Radziszewski and performances by Marina Gržinić and STEAM ROOM among others. Radziszewski’s (b. 1980, Poland) work deals itself with the question of history and queerness: His series Gallery of Portraits (2020 – ongoing) is depicting queer figures from Polish history and the present. The colorful paintings that take up the form of historical or ancestor portraits not only subvert the genre but also a conservative understanding of history (and chronology) as they write a queer history of Poland. The series as well as other works is shown at MoCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) Skopje, other events take place at the Youth Cultural Center or the SCS Centar Jadro, an inclusive space that nurtures inclusive, democratic, progressive culture in Macedonia.

We here publish the introduction by the festival curator Slavcho Dimitrov, who is outlining the importance of queer chronopolitics for marginalized communities in (Eastern-) Europe. (Judith Sieber)


Skopje Pride Weekend 2023
QUEER CHRONOPOLITICS: History, Affects, Utopias

This year is the 11th edition of the Skopje Pride Weekend, a festival for queer arts, culture,
and theory, whose goal is creating space for the presentation and promotion of non-normative
forms of world-making, relations, affects, identity positions, bodily styles and sensibilities that
have been marked, by the heteronormative, nationalistic and neoliberal capitalist context, as queer,
eccentric failures.
Starting from the presumption that intersectionality is the crucial paradigm by the means
of which all identity positions are constructed and performed, including gender and sexual
identities, with the programme we want to offer a radical and multifaceted critique of the binary
gender system, heteronormativity and nationalistic homophobia, as well of the intersections of
these oppressive and disciplinary regimes of power with class, ethnicity, race, and health.
Queerness, as the foundational premise of our festival, signifies a way of life, art of the stylization
of one’s own and collective life, a political tool and attitude that resists the dominant models of
power/knowledge that orchestrate and regulate some sexual and gender identities as “normal,”
while others as “queer.” The queer political and cultural orientation critically investigates and
problematizes our desires and aspirations for conformism and normality, including the hegemonic
assumption and values about love, intimacy, kinship, embodiment, capitalist competitiveness and
egoism, commodity fetishism, as well as the contemporary discursive performatives of the nation-
state.

Karol Radziszewski, “Toyen” од серијата “The Gallery of Portraits”, 2021

The programme’s focus of the Skopje Pride Weekend is set on cultural and arts performing
practices and gender, sexuality, and queer theory’s knowledge productions and critique. This
choice is made on the grounds of our commitment to the idea that the “aesthetic” is deeply
ingrained in the corporeal experience and as such lies at the base of the social, cultural, and political
experience. Hence, if the political ideology and hegemonic cultural models instill their orders on
the citizens’ bodies and shape their emotional orientations and sensibilities (the aesthetic domain),
the body and the affective and emotional relations become the crucial site for thinking and creating
resistance and alternative life forms. The performing arts and body art practices mobilize exactly
these tensions of power inscribed in our bodies and subversively redirect them in alternative and
non-normative directions. The body, in the critical feminist and queer performative practices, is
the battleground whereby power relations are actualized and contested. Transdisciplinarity is the
other program orientation of the Festival, and through it we want to establish a dialogue between
different social sciences and humanities disciplines, cultural and artistic practices, and political
and public discourses, as well as to promote gender and queer theory discourses in our context, as
a new methodological frameworks for the reception of art, and a critical interpretation of political
reality.

Skopje Pride Weekend 2023 | Queer Chronopolitics (Trailer)


The thematic focus of SPW 2023 is QUEER CHRONOPOLITICS: History, Affects,
Utopias. This year’s curatorial choice of festival theme draws on complex and multifaceted
research, critique, and performative practices within queer and feminist art, theory, and culture
that question, problematise, and rethink heteronormative, nationalist, capitalist, and racial
assumptions and politics of time, history and the archive, both in collective and individual
normative experiences of time, history, memory, and development.
A particular focus of the festival is the questioning of hegemonic nationalist
historiographical narratives and policies of national archives, as well as their strategies of erasure,
exclusion, and ignoring of the invisible and secret histories of sexual and gender minorities and
their experiences, on the one hand, as well as the possibilities of revision, rereading, rewriting and
reimagining the historical (absent) traces and voices, and ephemeral archives of queer people, on
the other.

Photo: Viktor Irvin Ivanov


Additionally, with this theme, we aim to critically explore the disciplinary and regulatory
mechanisms that mobilize temporality as a key technology and vector of power in the reproduction
of heteronormativity, capitalism, and racist/colonial violence, inscribing itself as second nature to
individual and group bodily experiences, while simultaneously they distinguish and hierarchize
progressive versus backward and primitive bodies and subjectivities, i.e. normal temporal forms
of personality development from backward and sexually “regressive” forms of life and sexuality.
The problems that this year’s festival edition will address start from the multitude of queer
theories and historiographies that place the question of time and history at the center of their
investigations. Beginning with the “father” of modern queer theory, Michel Foucault, and his
genealogical explorations of the history of sexuality, the deconstruction and analysis of power
relations in the construction of various, seemingly stable and trans-historical objects and
phenomena, including gender and sexuality, become an exciting subject for queer theory, art and
culture, and an opportunity for political critique and activism, as well as imagining different futures
and mobilizing utopian desires from beyond the prison of the normative present. On the other hand,
Foucault’s research related to the discipline and regulation of bodies in modern and contemporary societies introduced rhythm, temporality, temporal dynamics, and the biopolitical regulation of reproduction as key problems for critique through queer optics, opening intersectional
investigations of heteronormativity, capitalism, racism, and nationalism as exclusively productive
methods in the thinking of temporal politics of discipline and regulation.
Along these lines, feminist, queer, and trans studies of temporality argue that European
normative time is organized to foster a deeply gendered dichotomized heteronormativity and that
women and sexual minorities often experience time differently. Consequently, the ways in which
the state controls the life trajectories of individuals and groups with normative assumptions about
the linear and necessary order of birth, schooling and labor force, marriage, reproduction,
retirement, old age, and death are subject to critical analysis. Or how everyday life is disciplined
by the gender organization of home time and unpaid reproductive labour, and working time. Other
researchers, on the other hand, criticize the model of development that underpins Western models
of history and psyche. Analyses of resistance to normative temporal patterns include but are not
limited to, explorations of the Freudian unconscious, the temporal modalities of queer ‘nightlife’,
and much more. Some of the key terms from time studies in the context of gender/sexuality
include:

Edelman’s (2004)[1] ‘reproductive futurism’, or the idea that the future is organized by the
figure of the child whereby the future is set as the reproductive horizon of the existing dominant
heteronormative logic that condemns queers in the circulation of the death drive; Roman (2005)[2]
with “archival drag” or the concept of performance as embodied memory; Luciano (2007)[3] with
“chronobiopolitics”, or a model of sexual organization of life through time; Muñoz (2009)[4] with
the concept of the “not yet present”, or the aspirational queer utopian desire and horizons of the
future; “erotohistoriography” (Freeman, 2010)[5], or the model of historical inquiry and practice as
directly sensual. Finally, queer research on the politics of time focuses on the affective dynamics
and socially organized experiences of melancholia, depression, mourning, abjectivity,
etc., as lived experiences that reject the progressive idea of forward-looking time as a capitalist
hetero-chrono-normativity of productivity, and by turning back to the past they remember the
histories of violence, the collective experiences of loss of marginal communities, but at the same
time they rework, redefine and revalue the lived past experiences of injury and shame.
Affective turning back, for queer people, is also a sensual, desirous, and yearning search
for, digging through, and imagining one’s history and lines of belonging through the ruins of grand
national histories. Through the flashes, traces and ephemera of shadow lives, and forbidden
experiences at the edges of history. As Elizabeth Freeman (2005)[6] argues, queer people “survive
through the ability to find and seize relations of pleasure between bodies. And we do that
throughout time” and through history.

Slavcho Dimitrov,
Festival curator


[1] Edelman 2004: Lee Edelman, No Future. Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Duke University Press

[2] Roman 2005: Performance in America. Contemporary U.S. Culture and the Performing Arts. Duke University Press

[3] Luciano 2007: Dana Luciano, Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America (Sexual Cultures: New Directions from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies). New York University Press

[4] José Esteban Muñoz 2009: Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. Combined Academic Publ.

[5] Freeman 2010. Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds. Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Duke University Press

[6] Freeman 2005, Elizabeth Freeman, “Time Binds, or, Erotohistoriography.” Social Text #84-85 special issue, The New Queer Theory (October 2005): 57-68.


Citation: Citation: “Skopje Pride Weekend addresses Queer Chronopolitics”, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 08.06.2023, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/47592



Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Forum Transregionale Studien (2023, 8. Juni). Skopje Pride Weekend addresses Queer Chronopolitics. TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research. Abgerufen am 16. April 2024, von https://doi.org/10.58079/ut72

Forum Transregionale Studien

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. It provides scope for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows. More...

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