An annual exercise in utopian curation, lesbian and gay experimental festival MIX gropes creatively to justify its own existence for the post-Queer as Folk generation. In MIX’s world, formal and social innovation emerge from the same dissatisfaction with mainstream norms, “art fag” is an honorific, and neither Chelsea scenes ever happened. Its ethically motivated inclusiveness means that, judging from what’s available for preview, attendees should expect equal parts snarkily clever genderfuck amusements and wearily malformed avant-garbage. But despite bumpy programming, the stand-out bits could hardly find a better setting.
Retrospectives propose an alternative history of gay media; surveys of Tom Chomont, Matthias Müller, and ACT-UP revel in the heydays of raunchy underground liberation, New Queer Cinema elegance, and activist chic, respectively. The problem of pinning down what radical action could be in today’s so-over-it climate haunts the best new work. In Duke & Battersby’s twee trendoid quasi-spoof Being Fucked Up, a girly robot voice intones über-burnt epigrams: “I don’t believe in art or socialism. I’m bitterly jealous of people who are good or successful.”
A more earnestly touching heroism emerges in Scott Treleaven’s The Salivation Army, a rantumentary about his wannabe-revolutionary homocore faux-gang. DIY grungy and surprisingly subtle, Salivation smartly links world-changing ambitions to perverse desires for purity and innocence. “I have seen the new face of radicalism,” Treleaven narrates, “and it is cute.” Like Dennis Cooper with a heart, he keeps outsider fires burning. In your face, Will & Grace.