Cite as: John Paul Ricco, Talk at the workshop Intimacy, Loss, Anonymity: Toward a Theory of Queer Neutrality, ICI Berlin, 22 June 2017, video recording, mp4, 47:00 <>
22 Jun 2017


By John Paul Ricco

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:47:00
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Workshop

Intimacy, Loss, Anonymity: Toward a Theory of Queer Neutrality / John Paul Ricco

For the past 20 years, after having curated the Chicago exhibition ‘Disappeared’ on AIDS and an aesthetics of disappearance, John Paul Ricco has theorized erotic and aesthetic relations to loss and withdrawal tied to specific junctures of late-20th-century gay male culture and contemporary art and film. He has shown anonymity to be an irreducible relational form of the ethical – in particular in terms of social and sexual intimacy.

The workshop will discuss Ricco’s paper ‘Mourning, Melancholia, Moonlight’, a work-in-progress on ‘neutral affect’ that is part of his ongoing conceptualization of queer neutrality. The essay draws on Roland Barthes’s conception of neutral mourning and relates it to Barry Jenkins’s film Moonlight (2016) and its presentation of an affective relation to loss that is distinct in its temporality from Freud’s ‘Mourning and Melancholia’.

By attending to the empirical contingency of the extemporaneous and erotic/aesthetic moment as the scene of feeling queer, Ricco is interested in thinking a time of affects that disrupts neo-liberal scripts of self-becoming and what is commonly referred to as an ‘event’. In addition, Ricco attends to the nuanced images of black masculinity that – he argues – are not adequately rendered by prevailing gender performative readings of the film.

Apart from ‘Mourning, Melancholia, Moonlight’, two additional essays of Ricco will be discussed and circulated in advance: ‘Intimacy: Inseparable from Separation’ (Open Set, May 2017) and ‘The Commerce of Anonymity’ (Qui Parle, June 2017).

John Paul Ricco is professor of contemporary art, visual studies, and art history at the University of Toronto. He is the author of the Logic of the Lure and The Decision Between Us: Art and Ethics in the Times of Scenes.


ICI Berlin
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John Paul Ricco

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Peter Rehberg