Comments from Campers
Photo: JulieMc McNamara.
‘Being in a room full of queer people made me feel powerful.
Feral Queer Camp was good in that it provided space for conversations about art and queerness, but it was great in that it provided people with whom to move through the festival and experience everything with. I knew no one in Belfast and suddenly had a group of people to go to shows with. […]
It was very valuable to hear other people’s thoughts on the works I’d seen – they were often things I hadn’t thought of.
I don’t think I would have gotten much out of Outburst if it hadn’t been for Feral Queer Camp. I probably would have just gone to shows and then gone home. I’m really glad I got to be part of FQC. I didn’t always have anything to say and didn’t always feel comfortable speaking in a group, but the environment was comfortable and understanding and open, and it always made me feel like my voice was important.’
Lee, Feral Camper
Aodhfionn, Feral Camper
Photo: Sarah Vickery
‘Sometimes when you’re working in the arts and when you’re a producer as well, you actually don’t have time to have real conversations […] Particularly for me, thinking about being a programmer, if I’m putting a festival together, thinking about all these different aspects is really useful, so thank you for allowing me to be part of it. It’s nice to know when you go somewhere there’s going to be other people you can just have a chat to […]
I really benefit from […] being able to express a critical eye on something […] I don’t really have the language, so I can really tell you how I felt […] but being able to critically analyse something and thinking about it that way – learning from you guys is really good’
‘Am I queer enough to be here and why am I doing this. Every queue and lobby bursting with gorgeous people alive with gender expressions and aesthetics. I’m ashamed that the moments of swapping compliments about what we’re wearing were the greatest affirmation I’ve felt in years. (Well, of course my friend group bolsters me against varying hostilities and I couldn’t live without this true love in our homes and the places we always meet, but,) Strangers in a queered public space with no obligations celebrating how we look together gives me a different sense of belonging. If I give love to everyone’s queerings then that love fills the space and everyone seems to glitter. And Ismail called me gurl when I wore a skirt and now we’re Facebook friends oh my babies I die I die I die.
Clearly I need to spend more time at queer arts festivals and outside of my wee group, for queerly I am under-socialised. I’m sorry for that moment when I asked someone in the Feral Camp if and how they were queer and I’m pretty sure it came across as gatekeeping, though I was trying to connect. You were very generous and it was so lovely to meet you.
The performance work though, perhaps that was the point. Khansa, their muscular tension on a rope in leather studded bellydancing transcendence, blazed with polymath integrity. With liquid compassion Ismail Fayed taught about Egypt’s politics through stories of Um Kalthoum, with the precise precarity of a first ever public performance which I will treasure forever. Dima Mikhayel Matta’s performance flew by on my nerves of being watched on stage while watching her, leaving me with fuzzy memories of her thorough emotional and academic intelligence. I feel deeply grateful to be able to see such accomplished work in Belfast. I’m also feeling the benefit of real live memories of performances as inoculation against the inescapable tabloid indoctrination of dehumanising lies about the Middle East.
Being part of the Feral Camp meant I shared these experiences with a group of people I didn’t know very well. So I chose my words differently and felt more part of the festival and the discussions after the shows, compared to how it would feel going with my friends. Maybe because I knew I was going to write this feedback, I knew I was going to be examined on it later, so I formed more defined opinions that I usually would. I was influenced by other Feral Campers to notice that the spaces for discussion needed to be chaired with more respect for power dynamics, and black, minority ethnic & non-anglophone voices needed to be heard more. The discussion in Queer Theory for Queer Artists started to address this and I hope this steers the future direction of Outburst.’
Queerying performance and pedagogy, going feral, and introducing Reid Marginalia
A blog entry written by one of our feral campers
Most recent Feral Queer camp
Midsumma Festival, Melbourne
21st January - 12th February 2023
The Feral Queer Camp is supported by the Creativity and Wellbeing Research Initiative and The Victorian College of the Arts - The University of Melbourne; and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.