After Mimi Zeiger’s introduction, Jack Halberstam proposes “a new vocabulary for transformative change in an era of stalemate, compromise and environmental decline” based on nothing, un-making and dispossession. “I will advocate for nothing. I will offer nothing. I will speak of nothing. I will ask you to embrace nothing with me on behalf of what you will see is an empty-handed future.”
Halberstam articulates a “politics of nothing” through discussions of art works, books and project including …
•Alvin Baltrop’s 1975-1986 photographs of Manhattan’s West Side piers.
•Joan Jett Black’s “camp-pain” for president in 1992 and 1996.
•José Esteban Muñoz’s book Cruising utopia (2009), especially his discussion of Fred Herko, and Ray Johnson’s staging of “Nothings” in opposition to “Happenings”.
•Gordon Matta-Clark’s “Day’s end” and “Fake estates” (both 1975)
•Cameron Rowland’s “Depreciation” (2018)
•David Hammons’s “Day’s end” (under construction)
•Lizzie Borden’s “Born in flames” (1983)
•Allan Moyle’s “Times Square” (1980)
•boychild's untitled hand dance (2019)
•Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossesed (1974)
Halberstam cites from Le Guin’s novel two quotes:
“Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I am going to unbuild walls.”
“We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand. And that the hand you reach out is as empty as mine is. You have nothing. You possess nothing. You own nothing. You are free. All you have is what you are and what you give.”