On Waiting with the Existential Ryan Rivera
This chapter shares the archive of the late queer Rican avant-garde multimedia artist Ryan Rivera by examining his experimental videos. Less than a minute each, these abstract videos draw the spectator’s attention to the psychical states of self-injury and suffering. Through close-ups, looping, a manipulation of real time, and overexposure, Rivera pushes the spectator to endure a series of grotesque actions; he repeatedly bangs his head, places his fist down his throat, holds his breath, retches, and punches and slaps his face. The author explicates the political and aesthetic consequences of waiting in the seat of sensation with and for a bodiless Rican subject who compels us to wait in dissonance through the exploitation of the senses. As a way to engender a type of queer calling, the author urges the reader to sit with the artist as he beats his head against the never-quite-postcolonial, creating new forms of Brown and Rican intimacy. The author reformulates the Cartesian split by showcasing the narrow space of a video screen in which the artist bangs his queer postcolonial head against the fast-paced heteronormative world.
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