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Friday, June 9 • 12:05pm - 12:15pm
Disabled Erotics: Offerings to Bob Flanagan & Dependency Rituals

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My project, Disabled Erotics, explores the potentiality of eroticism through collective haptic horizons within relational care webs. This proposal is an act of future dreaming beyond the whitewashed colonial confines of intimacy, relationality, and sex. My desire is to examine how disabled queer and trans people relate to sensuality and dependency as a form of reflexive agency. Thus, this endeavor explores the intersections of disability and erotic potentiality from a place of critical queer sensation-filled subjectivity. Inspired by thinkers such as Audre Lorde, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Samarasinha, Mia Mingus, Cyree Jarelle Johnson, Constantina Zavitsanos, and Amber Jamilla Musser, Disabled Erotics is located within fissures of unruly, disorderly, queered, messy, overflowing crip- ness. In doing so, I aim to locate the importance of claiming disability as a means of further contending with the somatic, sensational, haptic, material, and figurative. Within this context, to center disability is to also center Blackness, queerness, transness, mundane labor, and (im)mobility. However, due to the carceral policing, medical surveillance, and violent systems forced upon our bodies, this project reckons with the understanding that care is relational and therefore not exempt from violence. Disabled Erotics contends with the inherent racialized, gendered, and classed dynamics of care exchange as they affect multiply marginalized disabled people. In doing so, moving towards a more capacious endeavor of not only care, but understandings of liminal and permanent dependency. The impetus of this work is to highlight the fragility and sturdiness of being and sensing as they relate to the insatiable needs and dependencies that we all possess.

Looking to alx velozo, agustine zegers, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Bob Flanagan, and Kamra Sadia Hakim, Disabled Erotics asks us to concede with our own preconceived notions of sensuality, breaking open towards more capacious ways of being and knowing with ourselves and each other. This project proposes a cosmos through the entanglement of disability and erotics as they are inextricably woven into each other and ricocheted onto new forms. In its multi-leg formulation, Disabled Erotics invites a plethora of experiential engagement through sight, touch, and sound, invoking a variety of “access intimacies.”

Disabled Erotics, Dependency Rituals looks to artists alx velozo, agustine zegers, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, and Kamra Sadia Hakim in the legacy of Audre Lorde and Bob Flanagan. Orienting towards a ‘ritual of the erotics,’ way of knowing, and multi sensorium point of access, this second section of the project spans across disabled bodies, assistive devices, and cross species knowledge. Disabled Erotics pursues the embodied, material, and haptic bonds between notions eroticism and disability and debilitation. My desire is to examine how disabled, chronically ill, and mad queer and transgender artists to sensuality as a form of reflexive agency, despite pre-conceived ableist notions of our bodies. Thus, this analysis of velozo, zegers, Branfman-Verissimo, and Hakim’s work highlights the intersections of disability and possibilities of eroticization from a place of critical and queer subjectivity. The section proposes a deeper understanding into collectivized and individualized experiences of pain, pleasure, grief, mourning, and care, for example. This project is a continual process of locating threads that lead one back to the disabled body as well as processes of debilitation - whether through contortion, examination, pressure, and materiality.

Disabled Erotics stems from a former video project of mine titled Offerings to Bob Flanagan. My video work Offerings to Bob Flanagan interrogates pain as an endurance performance, incessant conjuring, and connective tissue as both subject and witness. While I will not be showing this video during my presentation, I will make the link available to audience members who wish to engage with this other leg of the larger Disabled Erotics project.


Mae Eskenazi

Student, University of Pennsylvania

Friday June 9, 2023 12:05pm - 12:15pm EDT
PS 401 (Design Center)