The Queer Art of Failure

As we have considered earlier, queer theory has been positioned as a critique of normatively. In ‘The Queer Art of Failure’, Halberstam considers the concept of failure and success as a heteronormative capitalist concept.

Jack Halberstam (aka Judith) is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. Halberstam is the author of five books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters(Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity(Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place(NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure(Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal( Beacon Press, 2012)

Halberstam on their personal pronouns:

  • WATCH: Jack Halberstam on Queer Failure, Silly Archives and the Wild (2014), IPAK Centar, youtube 16:48 minutes.

  • READ Halberstam, J. (2011). ‘Introduction: low theory’ in The queer art of failure. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press. pp.1-25.
  • Halberstam, J. (2011). ‘chapter 3: the queer art of failure’ in The queer art of failure. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press. pp.87-121.

p.92 Fourth Place: the art of losing – Tracey Moffat

  • Liss LaFleur 


  •  re-evaluate your life. Or not.


  • Edmond E, & McGowan J, 2017, ‘We need more mediocrewomen!’, Overland, Summer 2017, retrieved 11 February 2018,
    “In practice, ‘excellence’ is not nearly as nimble a criterion as it ought to be. Instead of reflecting the best of the best in all its variance, excellence as an evaluative framework has congealed around a set of meanings: major institutions, high production values, established canons, heritage arts and so on. The net result, says Eltham, is that ‘the current funding paradigm favours the dead, the white and the male over the living, the not-white and the female. It favours the old over the new.’
    But the issues run deeper than that. Excellence, at least in its current use, is difficult to reconcile with a lot of feminist creative practice. Whether by choice or necessity, feminist art- and culture-making has, for the best part of a century, embraced collective organising, DIY-production practices, transgressive values and an anti-establishment ethos. You can chart this approach across collaborative theatre practices of the early 1900s in Europe and North America, to women’s film co-ops of the 1970s and 1980s, the art activism of groups like Guerrilla Girls, Pussy Riot and Sydney’s the Kingpins, and punk-inflected DIY music scenes like no wave, riot grrrl and the Melbourne-based LISTEN collective.”
  • Kim, J. J., & Reed, C. (2017). Queer difficulty in art and poetry : rethinking the sexed body in verse and visual culture. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, [2017].
    ABSTRACT: Augmenting recent developments in theories of gender and sexuality, this anthology marks a compelling new phase in the scholarship on queer visual studies. Navigating notions of silence, misunderstanding, pleasure, and even affects of phobia in artworks and texts, the authors in this volume propose new and surprising ways of understanding the difficulty – even failure – of the epistemology of the closet. Moreover, treating ‘queer’ not as an identity but as an activity, this book represents a divergence from previous approaches associated with Lesbian and Gay Studies. Responding to the expansion in scholarship in experiences and understandings of sexual identities and their relationship to art, the authors in this anthology refute the interpretive ease of binaries such as ‘out’ versus ‘closeted’ and ‘gay’ versus ‘straight’, and apply a more opaque relationship of identity to pleasure. Accepting difficulty and opacity as forms of queer pleasure, this book explores the potential of queer theory in modern and contemporary art and visual culture. The essays range in focus from photography, painting and film to poetry, Biblical text, lesbian humor, and even botany. Evaluating the most recent critical theories and introducing them in close examinations of objects and texts, this is the first book to take up the study of queer visual culture.
  • Takemoto, T. (2016). Queer Art/Queer Failure. Art Journal, 75(1), 84-87.
  • Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon perform Gender Failure | BFI (2013) BFI Festivals, youtube, 9.05 minutes


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