The Update: Terre Thaemlitz
The Update is our monthly feature where we check in with our favourite artists to talk side-projects, new endeavours and works-in-progress.
Here, Terre Thaemlitz, aka DJ Sprinkles, talks about the deconstructive motivations behind her new project.
What can you tell us about the Deproduction project?
It’s my newest album as “Terre Thaemlitz,” being sold as an SD card containing audio (48k/24bit AIFF files), video (HD 1920×1080) and texts with images (PDF). Thematically, it is a response to the ways in which dominant LGBT agendas are increasingly revolving around themes of family, matrimony, breeding and military service. It was produced with support from documenta 14 and Akademie der Künste der Welt, with the audiovisual world premiere at documenta 14 in Athens on July 9, 2017.
How does this differ from other work released as Terre Thaemlitz?
Actually, it is very much in line with the trajectory of my other electroacoustic projects containing video – Interstices, Lovebomb, Soulnessless… It is not a sequel to Soulnessless, but given the SD card format and heavy data load, there are similarities. In fact, the critique of family structures in Deproduction is an expansion of ideas first mentioned in the “Annotations” text from Soulnessless.
In the readings you tell the stories of various individuals and their experiences with family. What significance do these stories have to the project?
Yes, the first half titled Names Have Been Changed presents a series of quite “moralistic” stories about the follies of child bearing, families, etc. They are inspired by people I know, as well as real events. However, often times the characters in the stories have moral systems that do not match the Western Liberal standard. It unfolds quite slowly over a period of almost 45 minutes. The intent is to get the audience to recognise their own processes of morally judging the characters, as well as acknowledging that even the most atrocious familial behaviour tends to be morally justified. This is an important set-up to the second half, “Admit It’s Killing You (And Leave),” which asks people to drop their preconditioned pro-family defences in order to hear some of the other ideas discussed as the piece progresses.
“If equality is an ideal of democratic organising, there is an unavoidable contradiction at the heart of contemporary ‘democratic societies’”
Can you tell us a bit about how these ideas relate to issues surrounding same sex marriage?
To quote the album’s text: “Liberal humanist cultures are recognizing they do not need to demand our heterosexuality. They only require our heteronormativity. This is what underlies today’s mainstream ‘queer moment.’ Business culture understands most of all that sexual orientation doesn’t matter, so long as the collective goals of private wealth, full-time labor, credit-debt, mortgaged home ownership, family, and military service are publicly upheld…. Today, most people see same-sex marriage as an ethical debate about the right to publicly express one’s love for whomever they choose. In fact, it is an ongoing struggle for access to social privileges…. These days, supporting same-sex marriage just seems like the liberal thing to do. Common sense. Meanwhile, what I would argue to be a more compassionate and ethical ‘sense’ to dismantle those exclusionary matrimonial institutions altogether is further rendered uncommon…. [As a result,] the anticipated promise behind today’s Queer families is nothing more than the egocentric notion that familial abuses will be resolved by this generation being better parents than the previous generation. What is forever absent are discussions of what it means to deliberately not be a parent, and to deliberately abandon family.”
The reading contains the line, “families make democracy impossible”. Can you explain this idea?
Well, family structures are inherently hierarchal, and overwhelmingly patriarchal. If equality is an ideal of democratic organising, there is an unavoidable contradiction at the heart of contemporary “democratic societies” insisting their social agendas revolve around families and “family values.” Deproduction focuses on that contradiction, and the very real violence it perpetuates and creates. In particular, sexual and gender violence. I am a nihilist, so I do not see family systems as surmountable – thus democracy becomes “impossible.” However, that does not mean you lay down and take it (an idiom that literally reflects the issues at hand). Struggles to reduce violence are always necessary, even in the absence of a promise of future peace.
Deproduction is out now via Comatonse