Laura Malaver

2019 Tinker Grant

For 35 days I spend my time in the city that gave birth to me, my hometown, the place I yearn for and have a unique, intimate, and secretive relationship with: Bogotá, Colombia. As part of the grant awarded by the Tinker Foundation, I decided to embark on two parallel and perhaps relational journeys: 1) live, enjoy, and investigate the cuir (queer) life in Bogotá as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex LGBTQI community, including current modes of expression; and 2) explore, experience, and research the various cultural productions manifested by local artists regarding the contentious and timely 2016 Acuerdo de Paz (peace accord) ending, at least symbolically, decades of intense conflict and civil war. Attending a number of performances, exhibitions, conferences, and events, I chosen to depict my experience in research through the medium of a newspaper as a way of informing the reader of tenuous issues, and encouraging accessibility in readership. I wrote a series of articles where I share key instances during my trip as an observant, at times a participant, and always a scholar, performer, and writer. Thinking about performing queer in Bogotá as a project and as an action-based experiment, I came to the realization I was to become my own research “participant,” for I am after all, the queer curious scholar invested in exploring queerness as identity and performance in the city I had never been out/queer before. That said, a tone of autoethnographical work—or what Gloria Anzaldúa (2015) termed “autohistoria-teoría”—encloses this immersive, creative, and experiential project. I chose to focus my work through a narrative and observational mode of analysis: 1) literature review on two primary organizations, and one meeting with director of Sentiido – Colombia Diversa and Sentiido; 2) literature review on data from the Acuerdo de paz and the current reception of the Acuerdo from artists, academics/scholars, and activists, and a deep analysis of the Universidad Externado de Colombia’s Law School’s project “El arte, la cultura y el patrimonio cultural como medio de reparación simbólica a las víctimas de violación a los derechos humanos;” and 3) examination and first-hand experience of various case studies—literary texts, performance, visual arts, and cultural manifestations—in specific theater productions by Corporación Barraca Teatro, artist exhibition in Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia, permanent exhibition in Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación, and attendance of Orgullo Gay 2019 (LGBTQI Pride). Overall, after my time in Colombia, I am more convinced now that our roots, la tierra, conflict/el conflicto (armado), and art and aesthetic practices are all intertwined. This project seeks to generate insights into and contribute to transnational queer and sexuality discourse, performance studies through a hemispheric lens, and critical ethnic studies. I believe in theory making as part of my doctoral work and critical pedagogy that constitutes shared meanings with people in community to excite new forms of knowledge production affectively embodied and alternatively positioned through performance and performing queer/cuir.