A performance and video installation in memory of queer academic José Esteban Muñoz by DIGITAL HOSTAGE COLLECTIVE.
The Miami Beach Botanical Garden will be transformed into a space of queer utopian longing. “Cruisers” like dance theater provocateur Octavio Campos and choreographer Pioneer Winter will interact with visitors, soliciting them to listen to oral histories of the queer Miami and Hialeah of the 1980s—the time of José Esteban Muñoz coming-of-age as a gay man—while soprano Celeste Fraser Delgado and tenor José Vilanova circulate the grounds, evoking the devastating impact of the AIDS pandemic with haunting arias.
The intrepid may choose to enter the Garden’s Butterfly Room, transformed by visual artist and videographer Damian Rojo into a symbolic “back room,” where an installation culled from archival film and new video evokes what Muñoz calls the “utopian longing” of the public sex scene in the 1980s. “Cruising Hialeah” and “Ghosts of Public Sex” inaugurate “Cruising Miami,” a long-term project to develop an archive of Miami’s queer lifeworld and of performance by queers of color in South Florida.
The Cruising Miami project aims to bring José home to South Florida’s queer community through a salon dedicated to his work and a performance coupled with a video installation recreating the cruising scene he missed out on in his youth, and a mural visible to young queers proclaiming the most famous quote from Cruising Utopia:
“Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of the moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds” – José E. Muñoz, Cruising Utopia
Born in Havana and raised in Hialeah, JOSÉ ESTEBAN MUÑOZ grounded his theoretical work in a performance and public sex archive derived mainly from New York City and Los Angeles. Also born in Cuba and raised in Hialeah at roughly the same time, DAMIAN ROJO immersed himself from an early age in the suburb’s queer culture, unknown to Muñoz, documenting much of his experience first on Super 8 film, and later on video. Though they never met, Muñoz as scholar and Rojo as artist separately explored parallel queer worlds of punk music and public sex throughout their careers.
While growing up in Hialeah, Muñoz was largely unaware of the queer culture flourishing at that time in South Florida. Although he regularly returned home to visit his Evangelical Christian parents, he never wrote about or appears to have even seen any queer performers in Miami. Likewise, the queer community in South Florida is largely unaware of his work.
ABOUT DIGITAL HOSTAGE COLLECTIVE: The Collective negotiates life, death, and sexuality in the digital age through interdisciplinary works that fuse the carnal with the virtual. Long-time collaborators singer/writer Celeste Fraser Delgado and visual artist/videographer Damian Rojo work with a shifting roster of consorts, which for Cruising Miami includes dance theater provocateur Octavio Campos, poet Neil de la Flor, dramatic tenor José Vilanova, and [choreographer Pioneer Winter.
*This performance is not suitable for minors under 18*