Pedro Moreira. S/O2: O (Significant Other 2: Oxytocin), 2019. Interactive installation. Exhibited in La Casa Encendida, Madrid as part of the Me Gustas Pixelad_festival.
Our first issue of the year is an inquiry into intimacy in its many forms. We decided on this topic the last week of summer, the first time we sat down with our new editorial team. ‘We don’t share intimacy yet,’ said one of our editors, ‘intimacy needs time to grow.’ Yet looking back, that first meeting was perhaps as intimate as it gets; nervous introductions, how-was-your-summer’s, testing waters, sharing ideas, enthusiasm, and doubts as well. ‘How do we define the intimate?’ ‘Won’t it be too much like Simulacrum’s Love issue?’ ‘What’s the difference between love and intimacy anyway?’
From these questions, ideas of intimacies started to take shape: those on the threshold between public and private, in languages between lovers, those differing from the hetero- and homonormative, the intimacies shared with oneself. Through touch and writing, poetry and myth, economic systems and modes of play, the subconscious and the attentive; the divergent approaches the eleven contributors of this issue have taken give us a glimpse of the endless ways in which the spectrum of intimate experience can be explored, exercised, and rethought.
As introduction to this issue, Cara Farnan addresses you – beloved reader – as she examines how ‘making space’ establishes an intimacy between you and i. “Youyouyouandiii” takes the form of poetic essay and investigates how intimacies work between a text that is ever-moving, influenced by our emotions, the social space it is situated in, the transforming relationship with you, and vice versa. Janniek Sinnige’s plea poetically brings us to a new sphere of romantic intimacy that is filled with longing and exceeds ephemeral time constructs. Through her alternative reading of the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, Sinnige argues that unrealised and imaginary romances are richest, as in their endless potential they linger on in the realm between dream and reality.
As romantic the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is, it also points to the frustrating reality of longing; of wanting to see and to be seen but fearing the vulnerability this entails simultaneously. In “The No,” the second act of her Diary Series, artistic researcher Mariana Gusso fictionalises the intimate as play and performance between antagonising actors. Like Orpheus could not resist to catch but a quick glimpse of Eurydice, a similar longing to cross eyes unfolds on and off Gusso’s stage as its characters play games of hide and seek.
If intimacy is a play of vulnerability, then this makes of love a risky game – right? In “The Economics of Wellbeing Scarcity,” Eef Veldkamp argues against the myth that wellbeing carries inherent risks and losses, a competition that produces winners and losers. Thinking through a set of well-known economic apparatuses in Western capitalist societies, Veldkamp argues that this constellation of beliefs enforces an idea of scarcity as a resource that produces the gain of the other as a degradation of one’s own wellbeing. “At the moment we take the scarcity principle as true, we self-identify with the idea that the lack is the norm,” Veldkamp convincingly writes, “we ourselves become ‘not enough.’”
Approaching the intimate not through scarcity but abundance, in “De hond is de straat” writer Maxim Litjens lyrically takes us through his impressions and sensations as the reader dwells along with him in a garden space filled with orange marigolds and trembling leaves. With botanical reference to work from Virginia Woolf and Marie Menken among other, Litjens invites us to intimately perceive the small, delicate details of our (natural) surrounding with attentive and exploring eyes. Litjens writing is accompanied by a print of the drawing Tantrum (2021) of visual artist Stijn Pommee. A graduate student from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Pommee is currently exploring the topic of touch through his drawings and illustrations that emerge as diary-like fragments and fantasies to him. For Tantrum, Pommee chose an oil transfer technique, in which line drawings are transferred on a canvas or other material using oil paint, and in doing so mirrored the concept of touch through the method that gives shape to his illustrations.
Returning to the notion of loss, in “Nostalgia made Flesh’’ Joy Bomer explores and dissects nostalgia along the lines of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis – going beyond interpersonal connections. The manner in which object loss is attempted to be restored through introspection and incorporation is carefully analysed by Bomer in the works of visual artist Jun Ortega Sanchez, writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, and director Carlo Mirabella-Davis. For those starving for touch, Jhor van der Horst guides you through the process of crafting vegetal sex toys in his five-step rough guide for queer haptic intimacy. Twisting, turning, handling the materials as they do you – precise fingerwork and a tender attentiveness make up for pleasurable sessions of craft and play.
Whilst portraying how a policing of intimacy and enforcement of heterosexuality forces queer subjects out of heteronormative spatial and temporal infrastructures, Joanna Mason argues that queer time and space, as conceptualised by Jack Halberstam, governs the lives of queer subjects. Mason guides the reader through her argumentation by offering a compelling analysis of Sean Baker’s 2015 film Tangerine. As urgent and immediate as the lives of Baker’s subjects, Mason’s “Intimacy Between the Margins” serves as a testament to queer resilience as it subjects create moments of defiant intimacy – finding love in a hopeless time and place.
Daydreams, conversations with friends, essayistic digressions – In “No-Refund Policy,’’ Neža Kokol explores the intrinsic mythical energy of intimacies, this untouched reservoir within us. Kokol ventures into a multi-perspective of intimacy, touching on dystopias of complete reason, Kierkegaard’s lowest form of love that manifests itself in online dating, and our fear of the infinite.
A dramatic end, in Fareeha Amjad’s “A Cliffhanger on the 00:00 Train” the reader is taken along an exposition of fleeting intimacies and fleeting love. Alongside last minute desires and (un)voiced questions, Amjad fears saying goodbye to a possible love and the meaning of an ultimate chance of intimacy – and so the yearning continues.