The Power Institute at the University of Sydney will shortly be hosting Jack Halberstam, a pioneering and hugely influential scholar in the fields of gender, queer and trans studies.
Halberstam will be visiting Sydney from New York, where he is the David Feinson Professor of Humanities at Columbia University. Over the past twenty years, Halberstam’s work has explored the ways identity has been framed and contested in modern and contemporary literature, politics, film, art and architecture. Many works, like 1995’s Female Masculinity, are today considered landmarks in queer and gender studies.
During his Sydney visit, Halberstam will air some of the ideas from his forthcoming volume, The Wild Beyond: Music, Architecture and Anarchy. This is the second volume in a broader project that posits “wildness” as a space of possibility for forms of life that escape the binary structures of gender, sexuality and other constraining systems of knowledge.
Halberstam’s project has already garnered a wide readership in Australia. Indeed, Professor Halberstam’s first public offering—a public lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia—is already sold out (but you can join the wait list!). This lecture will address the “aesthetics of collapse” in the 1970s work of Black queer artists like Alvin Baltrop and Beverly Buchanan. This lecture forms part of “Image Complex”, a lecture series co-presented by the Power Institute and the MCA Australia which aims to introduce new ideas on art and visual culture.
"More fun than a Ted Talk, more sexy than a talk show, more controversial than a white male comedian - Queer PowerPoint is exactly what it sounds like, queers transforming the world’s most clunky presentation platform into sheer magic!" - Jack Halberstam
Tickets are still available for the following night’s event at the University of Sydney’s Seymour Centre: Queer PowerPoint featuring Jack Halberstam. Here Jack will approach wildness from another angle, presenting “the case against pets”. This topic is perfectly suited to the playful and slightly rowdy format of Queer PowerPoint, an artistic platform run by performance maker Harriet Gillies, interdisciplinary artist Xanthe Dobbie, creative producer Thom Smyth and AV manager Charlie Kember. “We are so excited to have Jack as our first international Queer PowerPoint speaker,” said Dobbie. “Having followed Jack’s work for many years, we know he will bring queering banal corporate software to a new level. This is going to be wild!”
Professor Halberstam’s visit is part of the Power Institute’s broader mission to engage with the most interesting and exciting thinkers in art and visual culture, and make their work accessible to Australian audiences. As Mark Ledbury, Director of the Power Institute, noted: “From Gayatri Spivak in the 1980s to Jack Halberstam in 2023, the Power Institute has for decades helped to place the University of Sydney at the centre of the world’s most important discussions of art, culture and identity.”
Professor Halberstam is the Power Institute’s third visiting scholar of 2023, following the visit of Southeast Asian art expert Melody Rod-ari, and the arrival of Gerald McMaster as part of the ten-month Terra Foundation Visiting Professorship in First Nations Art.
An evening of corporate presentations and personal optimisation. But queer. And with Jack Halberstam.