READ/ Zine Issue 1/ Feb, 2018/ Queering Ecology
One Friday afternoon for two hours on the ground floor of Auckland’s Central Library, a group of around 20 participants sat down and created the content for this publication. Presented as part of the samesame but different festival, this free zine workshop was facilitated by three artists, Steve Lovett, Richard Orjis and val smith. They brought together their interests of text, image, embodiment and a desire to connect and explore notions of queerness, queering and ecologies.
The term queer is complex. To begin an unwinding of its nuances, we might say that it resists binaries and imposed boundaries, and comes with a history of resistance and anti-establishment. The term is embraced by some sexual and gender minorities, as well as alternate non-normative identities and politics, and branches into many theoretical terrains. Zine culture, likewise has a history of anti-establishment, arising from the advent of the photocopier and a spirit of anarcho-punk and DIY culture. This workshop was instigated by the AUT Art & Design Queer Reading Group as a way of exploring the multiple voices within a queer dynamic. Every submissions offered in the workshop was included.
The Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies offer a definition of ecology as “the scientific study of the processes influencing the distribution and abundance of organisms, the interactions among organisms, and the interactions between organisms and the transformation and flux of energy and matter.”
However, for this zine workshop we approach a reading of ‘Queer Ecology’ through the lens of artistic practice. Western histories and scientific understandings have traditionally been told through the lens of the privileged and neglected alternative narratives on the basis of race, class, gender, religion and sexuality. We might begin our reading of Queer Ecology then by thinking of ways to ‘queer’ ecology. For instance, the more refined an understanding of biology becomes over time, the more we can see just how ‘queer’ nature is. As cited by Mortimer-Sandilands and Erikson, 1,500 animal species have been observed to engage in homosexual behaviour. We might also consider how the building blocks of life, cells, reproduce asexually. And what about the fact that most slugs, snails and some fish are hermaphrodites, along with the majority of plants, who also court other species, such as insects and birds into their reproductive cycles. Johnson reminds us that contemporary scientific thought is not built around an overarching concept of truth and order, but something more riotous, messy and mysteriously diverse.
So where does this brief introduction to our thinking leave you in terms of comprehending the notion of Queer Ecology? We invite you into the pages of READ to engage with the multiple voices, morphing bodies and diverse relations to celebrate with us all of the insights, and messiness and disorderly explorations.
The Art & Design Queer Reading Group is a bi-weekly meet-up to discuss Queer theory. The group was initiated by PhD students in the Art & Design department of AUT. Anyone interested is welcome to join us and share your perspectives on readings, to build knowledge, thinking and practice. https://www.facebook.com/groups/689570904566992
Some poem in READ Zine were created from subtracting text from Timothy Morton’s article ‘Queer Ecology’. Morton, T. (2010). Guest Column: Queer Ecology. PMLA, Vol. 125, No. 2 (March 2010), pp. 273-282. Modern Language Association.
Many thanks to
Timothy Kidd and Tessa Stubbing and Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero /Auckland Central City Library
Michael Giacon, Peter Wells and the samesame but different LGBTI Readers and Writers Festival
Welby Ings, Aram Wu and Auckland University of Technology
Richard, Steve and val
- Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands & Bruce Erickson (Eds), Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire, Indiana University Press, 2010
 Erik Hoffner, How to queer ecology and the environmental movement, retrieved from https://grist.org/article/2011-03-28-sex-geese-and-the-queering-of-ecology/