The following conversation took place on October 2, 2021 at Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore, on the occasion of the launch of Gregg Bordowitz’s Some Styles of Masculinity (Triple Canopy, 2021). The author convened with theorist and poet Fred Moten to discuss the performance of ethnicity and difference, the story of Exodus and the promise of diaspora, and charting a path forward for being different when difference is under assault.
To celebrate the publication of Gregg Bordowitz’s Some Styles of Masculinity (Triple Canopy, 2021), the author will speak about the book with the theorist and poet Fred Moten at Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore. Bordowitz’s retrospective, “I Wanna Be Well,” is on view at MoMA PS1 through October 11.
Prompted by the surge of white nationalism in America, Some Styles of Masculinity describes Bordowitz’s coming of age through reflections on three figures that have shaped him: the rock star, rabbi, and comedian. These totems of masculinity enabled Bordowitz to navigate his experience of assimilation and marginalization as a Yinglish-speaking child of outer-borough Jews, and then as a queer person living with AIDS. And they gave him the tools to form an identity through continual reinvention rather than choosing between becoming American or remaining an outsider.
Bordowitz and Moten, friends and frequent correspondents, will ask how individuals, cultures, and movements are shaped by assimilation and marginalization. They’ll turn to themes that animate their relationship and Some Styles of Masculinity: the performance (and consumption) of ethnicity in music and comedy; the story of Exodus and the promise of diaspora; and the role of culture in combating bigotry and claiming rights, especially in times of upheaval and plague. Drawing on Bordowitz’s artwork and AIDS activism as well as Moten’s writing on the aesthetics and politics of Black self-determination, the conversation will consider how to chart a path for being different when difference is under assault.
Some Styles of Masculinity is adapted from Bordowitz’s eponymous series of improvised monologues; versions of the monologues were recently presented by MoMA PS1.
Capacity at the venue is extremely limited because of social-distancing protocols. In advance of the event, Artbook @ MoMA PS1 Bookstore will contact all who have registered to ask if they plan to attend in person (and provide all relevant information, including a link to the live stream). Seats at the bookstore will be offered via email on a first-come, first-served basis. If you reply to indicate that you would like to attend in person after the capacity for RSVPs has been reached, you will receive instructions for signing up for the wait list. Because of the limited capacity, we kindly request that you contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible if you have secured a seat for the event but decide not to attend. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (or a recent negative test) is required for entry.
Support for Some Styles of Masculinity has been provided by the Stolbun Family, Gregory R. Miller & Michael Wiener, and the Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery at Reed College. Triple Canopy also gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Lambent Foundation/Fund of Tides Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Opaline Fund, as well the magazine’s Board of Directors, Director’s Circle, Publishers Circle, and the many individuals whose contributions sustain the magazine.
- Gregg Bordowitz is an artist, writer, and teacher. He is the author of The AIDS Crisis Is Ridiculous and Other Writings, 1986–2003 (MIT Press, 2004), General Idea: Imagevirus (Afterall Books, 2010), Volition (Printed Matter, Badlands Unlimited, 2010), and Glenn Ligon: Untitled (I Am a Man) (Afterall, 2018).
- Fred Moten lives in New York City and is a professor of performance studies at New York University. He is the author of several books of criticism and poetry, including In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (2003), B Jenkins (2010), The Service Porch (2016), Black and Blur (2017), Stolen Life (2018), and The Universal Machine (2018). He is also the coauthor, with Stefano Harney, of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (2013) and A Poetics of the Undercommons (2016).