Black Sheep Collective’s Queer Poetics
Black Sheep explores Queer in the widest sense. We believe in the ‘observational advantages’ of being Othered, queering the notion that being ‘outside’ (of a system/structure) is perceived solely as ‘disadvantage’. As an organisation, we’ve often been described by the cliche ‘breaking the mould’, however we argue that we were never in the mould to begin with. It is from this unstable site, located elsewhere, outside, that Black Sheep plays, makes-trouble, responds to, and questions, a world full of unfinished projects.
We believe the ‘essential differences’ between and amongst us, are sites of power, progress, and potential; portals to a Queer Energy so to speak. We value works being critically led by queer people and voices, as well as mounting work that has queer content, connections, and/or meanings. Our lens is focused on the ways and modes in which, Queer Performance can effect change, particularly with regards to how Humans think, feel and act about themselves and the World.
We acknowledge the historical trajectory of Queer & Performance as being present in non-confirmatory, anti-normative, resisting, challenging and anti-institutionalised movements. Indeed, both Queer and Performance share an archive of trauma, endurance, creation, and deconstruction etc. Both paradigms arguably have caused systemic shifts and each have many historical points where scholars argue a Turn has been initiated. Both practically and theoretically.
Paradoxically Queer Performance, even more so in recent years, has been theoretically concentrated in the institute of academia. Yet, current Queer Theory does not manifest itself quite so easily as other academic fields. Tethered to Social Action, the paradigm has a unique ability to infold itself back to/on the counter-ways above, thus resisting the thresholds of regulations and traditions of the Institute. Here, Queer also aligns with an emerging discourse in Posthumanism. Transcending time and space, back and forth, near and far, here, there, everywhere and nowhere- all at once!
The more we ask or Queer-something, the more we find out. Queer Performance can constantly shift and change; we are forever chasing Queer- trying to locate it, signify it, mark it, but this is a failed project. Queer cannot be objectively identified; it plays with us just as much as we play and explore it.
What is the future of Queer Performance?
Queer Performance, for us, is (and will always be) a question. Not a statement or claim; yet infinite and never complete. Queer tethers itself to both theory and action, it transcends time and space. In this way, Black Sheep’s Queer Poetics are an infolding, reflexive project- that moves and shifts, almost autonomously, relegating the complicated tasks of making hard line definitions, categorisations and/or labels, that are striving to dominate discourse around Identity. By this we mean, if a shift in focus is moved from the Performance (conscious intent) to the Performativity (unconscious reaction), we can understand better how we feel, think and act about ourselves and the world.
Maybe, the more appropriate questions are:
What is Queer about Performance?
How do we recognise Queer in Performance?
Where does Queer Performance tether itself to wider contexts? (Class, Race, Gender, Socio-economic position, etc.).
Quinn, D. (2022) Queer AF, Black Sheep Collective CIC. Date Accessed [insert]. https://blacksheepcollective.