Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Flagging: Aesthetic Tactics and Queer Signification


Art & Design


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



As a system of declaring desire and eliciting action, the hanky code offers a provoking model for a queer aesthetic. The code is dependent on signals not intended to be legible beyond a queer audience. The appetite that drives the aesthetic continues to be associated with gay male culture. The immediacy of such signification communicates a definite clarity of purpose. These characteristics point toward a series of concerns: who is the audience for any singular manifestation of a queer aesthetic, who defines and uses a queer aesthetic, and what are the desired outcomes of communicating via a queer aesthetic? Flagging: Aesthetic Tactics and Queer Signification will use these concerns as an entry point into a conversation on the multiple ways in which queerness is expressed visually. Rather than formulating a definition or creating a taxonomy of the multiple frequencies of queer aesthetics, Flagging will attempt to compile a series of diverse case studies. It is expected that what may be considered a queer aesthetic shifts easily over time, geography and bodies. As the imperative of the closet has declined, the continued use of codes and aesthetic signals has taken on new meanings. In using the hanky code as the point of departure for a discussion on queer aesthetics, this session will hopefully encourage not only conversation about the audiences, practitioners, and purposes of a queer aesthetics, but also the ways in which the hanky code and other codes points to some of the potential limits of queer aesthetics. http://conference.collegeart.org/2012/sessions/index.php?period=2012-02-24

Conference Name

CAA Annual Conference

Conference Location

Los Angeles, California

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