Installation at the Crawford Art Gallery, 2021.

Expulsion (30 minutes, 2021) moves between a fictional Queer State, archival footage of queer activists, a guided meditation to expunge internalised homophobia/transphobia, and nocturnal rituals.

As the utopic idea of a Queer State devolves from a promised oppositional force into a dystopian bureaucracy, it begins to protect its borders and reject some “applicants” from entering the state. These applicants to the state are required to undergo a formal procedure to assess their suitability for citizenship, that is, how their sexuality and politics align with the purpose of the state. Questioning who decides who gets to belong, rejected applicants are offered brutal guidance how to express their sexuality and identity in a manner that will allow them to reintegrate to their home state.

Expulsion incorporates archival footage of Joan Jett Blakk, the drag persona of Terence Smith, who ran for mayor of Chicago in 1991 and for president in the USA in 1992 on the ticket of the Queer Nation party. Expulsion navigates through queer history, from the witchcraft trials and the inquisition, to current debates around homonormativity and the co-opting of queerness by capitalism. The footage of Joan Jett Blakk’s rallies and speeches are full of hope and determination to imagine a better world for queer people, one which fails to fully materialise as the fictional queer state descends into bureaucracy.

Read essay by Professor Karl Schoonover, published by the Crawford Art Gallery.

Expulsion was created as the practical component of Gaffney’s PhD research project, Resisting Homonormativity in Queer Filmmaking Practice, at Ulster University, and was supported by and filmed on location at the Crawford Art Gallery. 

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