Editorial 46: Intimacy

Welcome to #46: this is the INTIMACY issue.

INTIMACY, as in:

– The state of being intimate.
– A close association with or deep understanding of something
– An act or expression serving as a token of familiarity or affection
– An amorously familiar act
– The quality of being comfortable, affectionate, warm, or familiar

In this issue:

Cover photographer Samra Habib is founder, editor and photographer of Just Me and Allah: A Queer Muslim Photo Project. Habib shares photos and interviews from the ongoing project, which aims to examine what it means to be Muslim and queer. The project brings to light the struggles and often complicated experiences of queer Muslims. Historically, photography has been forbidden in Islam so there’s very little photo archival evidence of the existence of queer Muslims. Understanding how Islam shapes personal identity is critical in differentiating between lives that are lived and the ones that are represented.

In Sleeping with Philosophers: An Interview with Ada Jaarsma on Philosopher Pillow Portraits, Ela Przybylo interviews queer feminist philosopher Ada Jaarsma about Jaarsma’s practice of crafting Philosopher Pillow Portraits. Exploring the evocative object at the centre of the project, Przybylo and Jaarsma map the networks of intimacies that are stitched together through Jaarsma’s practice—including between philosophers and their fan followers.

Canadian artist, writer, and cultural worker Anthea Black talks with Rita McKeough, the Calgary-based audio, media installation and performance artist who has exhibited throughout Canada since the late 1970s. In conversation, Black and McKeough focus on recurring themes of rhythm and knocking, through several works and with a focus on one of McKeough’s more recent exhibitions, Veins (2015-2016). The project in focus, as Black reflects, addresses McKeough’s concern about pipelines under construction, potential leaks, and their long-term effects. Indeed, a topic of urgency and timeliness. Since Black first spoke with McKeough about the exhibition, Indigenous efforts to halt Dakota Access and Kinder Morgan pipelines and restore land rights have catalyzed activist efforts around the world.

In New Confessions, Luke Munn continues to use code – machine, text, outputs –  to activate relationships and responses. Munn presents to the viewer a series of apparently hand-written documents which admit to future misconducts. These documents, however, were generated by code using a recent machine learning framework which synthesizes human writing. New Confessions explores what Munn describes as ‘emulated intimacy’: using the cold logic of the computer to create the warmth and authenticity associated with handwriting.

In Ambient Intimacies and the Habituation of Software Updates, Amelia Acker explores the updating of mobile software – like the Tinder app – as an artifact of habit. These moments of rupture, what Acker defines as the “ambient intimacy” of networks, are the moments when we are most vulnerable and on tenterhooks, wherein we suddenly realize, as Acker explains, that this waiting, this stretching, this anxiety, is actually painful but also how the tool works, how data is collected and learns our preferences. Acker’s work encourages us to reappraise our relationship to hardware and software, and with the digital at large, and to forge new kinds of encounters with the traces (data) we seemingly create routinely and habitually. For Acker, it’s precisely in these moment of conventional repetition where new potentialities for intimacy emerge.

Desmond Miller interviews Anique Jordan, a multi-disciplinary artist, award-winning writer, scholar and social-entrepreneur. As an artist, Jordan’s artwork plays with the aesthetics found in traditional Trinidadian carnival and the theory of hauntology, challenging historical narratives and creating, what Jordan calls, impossible images. Jordan’s art creation processes are guided by the questions: What stories do we tell that go unchallenged? And in how many ways can we know a thing? Jordan’s work calls into question unacknowledged and forcibly forgotten pasts, especially of Black presences in Toronto, Ontario, and Canada more broadly. The interview focuses on Jordan’s most recent body of work, Possessed (2015-2016) and Mas’ (2016) – including inspirations and references – as well as Jordan’s artistic process/motivations. In conversation, Miller and Jordan unpack the urgent need for Canada based artists who are willing to do difficult work, and ask questions that lead down different paths than the well-trod ones of empire.

We’re very pleased to once again feature the crucial work of PosterVirus, the ongoing Day With(out) Art community-based activist street and online art initiative and affinity group of Toronto’s AIDS ACTION NOW! The curatorial project was developed collaboratively between Alexander McClelland and Jessica Lynn Whitbread to widen the lens on how we engage with AIDS. The posters have been shown across North America in a range of exhibits and on the streets of various cities http://postervirus.tumblr.com/. The posters featured in this issue include works by Kia Labeija, Jessica Karuhanga, Shan Kelley, FASTWÜRMS and Brendan Fernandes

In Critical Intimacy Studies in the Era of Intersectional Hate, Nathan Rambukkana broaches a topic that has occupied so much of our collective psyche over the last year, and with amplified urgency as of November. We end the issue with Rambukkana’s piece, which revisits critical intimacy studies in light of the “intersectional hate” of the so-called “alt-right” movement. Rambukkana, whose work centres on the cultural study of discourse, politics and identities, and addresses topics such as digital intimacies, robotic intimacies, the relationship of intimacy and privilege, hybridity and mixed-race identities, the social and cultural aspects new media forms, and non/monogamy in the public sphere, builds on his expansive body of expertise and explores potentials of new and strange proximities, connections, and alliances for a time when hope seems in short supply, but also the potential for shaking up binaries may once again be in the air.

As always, huge thank-you to Tamara Shepherd (our amazing copy editor), to all the NMP regulars, contributors past and future, and to readers and supporters of the project in so many ways.

Andrea Zeffiro, Mél Hogan and M-C MacPhee