Holding Patterns is a meditation on the ways in which Black queer men negotiate and express joy as an embodied praxis amid an ever-present, exhausting climate of antiblackness and homophobia. I seek to express a kind of interiority that disavows the toxic hypermasculinity often associated with Black men, whether queer or not.
I began this project in 2016 from a deeply personal place of grief in the wake of untimely and violent deaths of friends and loved ones. I’ve interviewed and photographed Black queer men - close friends as well as strangers - to engage in a more meaningful conversation about how we can more consciously awaken an imagination that is often atrophied in the wake of constant trauma and violence. How this paucity of imagination can itself be a form of violence if it limits the possibilities for everyday joy.
As part of this project, I’m encouraging my collaborators to actively imagine these everyday possibilities with me. To include, but also move beyond, performance or signification; to be intentionally present in the quiet, intimate interstices where freedom can thrive. Ultimately, I hope to foreground a Black vitality that is not a response to trauma or pain, but exists simply because we decide to move and love freely in a world not structured with our survival in mind.
My project title “Holding Patterns” is a reference to the notion of “the hold,” as theorized by Frank B. Wilderson III, Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten, and Christina Sharpe, among others. It speaks to the shared experiences of confinement and regulation of Black bodies using the metaphoric hold of a slave ship, but also the possibilities for Black sociality that arise from such conditions. In “The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study,” Stefano Harney and Fred Moten use the term “hapticality” to describe these possibilities of sharing through touching and feeling, which invokes another way to think through bell hooks’ idea of marginality as a site of radical openness. In “Holding Patterns,” I rely on multiple readings of “the hold” to speak to the ways in which we remain at once “beholden” (contained), in a “holding pattern” (state of suspension), but also “held” (cared for and supported).