Queer fear is a personal strategy that is one answer to those representational quandaries. It is also in response to certain anti-social strands in Western queer theory that see in concern for the future a necessarily repressive temporal ideology.  The prime example is Lee Edelman’s critique of reproductive futurity in the figure of »the child« in heterosexist environmental campaigns that bind the well-being of the environment to the well-being of the heterosexual family offspring. However, I would like to counter that dismissal of the future with the belief that it misses the point, especially in space-times of high toxicity in the Global South or in indigenous and impoverished communities. If the figure of the queer is traditionally associated with non-normative practices that may compromise their health and longevity, from spontaneous sexual activity to recreational ingestion of toxic substances, they are also associated with a heightened awareness around issues of agency and consent. Whereas recreational drug intake can be voluntary, environmental toxicity is always nonconsensual, and hence the need for a queer fear.
»Fear and wariness are thus effects that the artist practices and vocalizes to the best of their abilities, not because there is not enough despair in the world: fear and hope share a troubled relationship, but they are not opposites.«
Fear and wariness are thus effects that the artist practices and vocalizes to the best of their abilities, not because there is not enough despair in the world: fear and hope share a troubled relationship, but they are not opposites. Cassandra is the princess from Greek mythology who has the gift of prophecy but whose warnings are never believed. So I’m amused by this idea of the artist in Cassandra drag, a paranoid but hopeful Cassandra who is hopefully not ignored!
Finally, I would like to thank brilliant friends who made this project possible. Zeynab Ghandour aka Thoom and Pad Fut, Chicago-based artists and musicians, contributed the sound. W. F. Lee, artist, game-designer, and writer, coded the project into existence.
I would also love to take this opportunity to mention some fellow artists who have worked on projects with threads related to waste and toxicity in the region. Jessika Khazrik, with The Blue Barrel Grove (2013-ongoing); Dala Nasser, with David Adjaye’s Trash (2015); Fadi Mansour, with Sealand (2018).
Interview by Sophie-Charlotte Opitz.