The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

GoGo reflects on its identity

Two hours into last Friday’s photoshoot, we were out of consent forms. While we took the previous photo shoot’s excessively unexpected success in stride and printed out extras, Grinnellians duped us again by exceeding last shoot’s attendance. Be it poor planning, low expectations, stubborn disbelief or a combination of the three, the enthusiasms and energies of Grinnellians ready to bare themselves in front of the camera tested the GoGo staff. By midnight, our camera memory cards held over 1,000 shots of over 80 different bodies. Bodies drained and tawdry set torn asunder, it felt like success. It was “Love Your Body” week, after all; and if the awkward smiling and giggling between naked friends indicated anything, there indeed seemed to be some sort of love in the air.

But, in reflecting about our photoshoots and the purpose of GoGo and the creative space it provides for queer, feminist, etc. voices on campus, I am dissatisfied with the current trajectory of GoGo. For the most part, GoGo’s presence on campus is made known through its physical publication and popular nude photoshoots. And, although I see the importance of the latter as a positive process in body positivity, I am afraid that these photoshoots may obscure GoGo’s other defining functions and, in some way, totalize the publication as nothing more than a collection of smiling, naked bodies. Of course, I say this as an editor and only as an editor with creative control over the content of the publication. But, less obvious, I say this as a new editor with memories of less than fantastic, less than engaging, less than pervasive GoGo publications, and, in commandeering it, I feel like an editor made auteur.

There are a couple of weeks left in the semester before we begin to finalize this year’s project, and in preparing the content I realized how much of it has my fingerprints on it. I recognize the faces in the photos. I can recall the quips some of these faces, people, made as they disrobed. Unforgettable are, too, the expressions of fear, courage, triumph and finally confidence that successively came to people’s faces. But, still, in organizing these photographs and anticipating the collected work, I can’t help but fear the insult I am doing to GoGo as a queer space. After all, part of the productivity behind queer spaces is the ability to express and share queers’ subjective experiences of living ‘neath patriarchy and its oppressive cousins, granted that the expression need not be overtly feminist to be GoGo material. Rather, I came to GoGo with the belief that the “queer” in queer space functions not only to denote who speaks, but also how and of what. Queers queerly speaking about queer things; things that elude heterosexist/patriarchal/body-normative/etc. radars and are repressed by hegemonic speech. So, in forgetting and remembering this, how else, but scared, can I feel towards the content we have thus far? Behind each one of the 1,000 photographs is a person whose subjective experience is lost once we publish a printed page with a photograph of their naked body on a black backdrop. No name. No text. Only sometimes, there’ll be some sort of aesthetic form or type of content that speaks unto you. But, for the most part, I am afraid that these photographs are for you to enjoy as a lookbook where the photographs “speak for themselves.”

As a co-editor of GoGo, this is how I feel towards my semester’s work. I do not seek to avail myself from the consequences of our publication’s decision in finding a victim for my blame. But to impart a clearer message unto you, what I take away from this is that GoGo’s function has been too vague for it to function as anything but a limply political, barely queered space. I acknowledge that GoGo’s claim to fame are our photoshoots: they’re fun, empowering and a new experience for most people. Good stuff, I continue to think. Still, in thinking about what GoGo was and could be, I am hopeful that in the coming semester, we will find new ways to engage the campus to better meet their needs as well as our own. Whether that means defining our political stances per semester and subsequently, pushing for a particular aesthetic, incorporating content into campus-wide discussions or hosting workshop events that harness the expressive/discursive power of art, I am hopeful that GoGo will crack this campus’s shell somehow.

– Adrian Rodriguez ’15

Co-editor of GoGo

with Samanea Karrfalt ’14

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