UNBECOMING NATIONALISMS: A QUEER LABOR OF UNPRODUCTION / NACIONALISMOS IMPROPIOS: UNA LABOR DE IMPRODUCCIÓN QUEER
“Unbecoming Nationalisms/Nacionalismos Impropios” started on Monday, July 18 as part of the Hemispheric Institute’s 10th Encuentro—eX-céntrico:dissidence, sovereignties, performance. From noon to dusk a steady and shifting ensemble of unravellers from across the Americas bent their heads and applied their fingers to the task of deconstructing—seam-by-seam, thread-by-thread—a 5x8 foot US flag. On Saturday July 23, “Unbecoming Nationalisms/Nacionalismos Impropios” reached its collaboratively conceived, and politically and effectively eloquent conclusion when a group of us gathered in front of La Moneda to create the NO+ symbol with the deconstructed US flag and to witness Aubrey D’Vaz Aguilera—accompanied by musicians from the Cuenca Colectivo CUECA SOLA—dance the hauntingly beautiful Cueca Sola.
Part mourning ritual, part meditation on the warp and weft nationalisms fabric, “Unbecoming Nationalisms/Nacionalismos Impropios” explores the queerly productive potential of unbecoming as a vehicle for embodied, and sustained critical engagement. “Queer” here does not signify a first-world identitarian position, but rather, a process—an always becoming—a deviation from, or perversion of, a norm. An always becoming that also signals an always unbecoming. Unbecoming, as in undoing. Unbecoming, as in becoming undone. Unbecoming, as in unraveling nationalisms’ unbecoming effects.
My deep gratitude to all who unravelled. To all who shared stories, tears, laughter, and strategies for unbecoming nationalisms. To those who took with them deconstructed scraps of the flag so they can continue the subversive (and criminalized) labor of unbecoming nationalisms with friends in their home countries. To Roewan Crowe for the impulse to spell out NO+ with the flag’s remains, to Aubrey D’Vaz Aguilera and the Cuenca Colectivo CUECA SOLA for the dance and music, and to all who created the NO+ symbol under the surveilling gaze of Chile’s Carbenineros at the site where Salvador Allende and members of his government were bombed by Pinochet’s military junta on the other 9/11—September 11, 1973.