!CURSED! is a multimedia exhibition consisting of several digitally-constructed collages and a short machinima film. The images were created through the appropriation and influence of various sources including public domain illustrations, analog photographs of gamescapes, queer zine archives, and memetic typography.
“Q: What’s the only recourse in this fuck-pissed, insane stink-rot oriface called alive?
A: WITHDRAWL IN DISGUST.”
- Dave, Fuh Cole: Issue #3 (1993)
From edgelord reapers to memetic jesters, contemporary depictions of skeletons serve as avatars of both hyper-masculine aesthetics and queer absurdity. While the former aspect revolves around death and toxic machismo, the later instead focuses on a newfound ethos: a way of existing beyond the typical binary of life and death, winning and losing, one and zero.
Inspired by queer zine culture and its usage of appropriated imagery, !CURSED! takes its name from within the Dark Souls role-playing game franchise. The players and characters in these games are cursed with undeath: doomed to wander an uncaring landscape until the eventual collapse of spacetime. Despite the games’ infamous difficulty and often disquieting setting, the series employs a purposeful balance of emotions. For every corrupted monarch and insurmountable obstacle, there are always moments of joyous exultation, slapstick humor, and artistic beauty.
Queerness is a similar cacophony of emotions: anger, elation, trauma, euphoria, shame, pleasure. To deny one is to deny the rest. In order to fully experience queer happiness, one must also stare directly into the abyss of discrimination and suffering. It’s a hollowing experience, and yet I have loved every moment of it.
Don’t give up, fellow skeleton. We may suffer, but we will make a path that is our own: beyond the reach of the binaries and the fading flame of imposed orders.