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Ben Miller and Elif Saydam in Conversation

Following the framework of Bad Gays, a podcast-turned-book about evil and complicated queers in history, the conversation delves into complexities of self-determination, artistic imagination and deviant behaviour beyond the “good queer, bad queer” dilemma of representational politics.

Glamour, camp and decoration are often considered frivolous and hollow, mere aesthetics not to be taken seriously. Throughout their practice, General Idea have played with these assumptions, queering modernist icons and inventing their own rules for what living and working together as artists can look like. 

In this interdisciplinary and artistic exchange, historian Ben Miller and artist Elif Saydam will reflect on ornamentation and visual cultures in relation to queer-political histories and survival. Taking into account the criticism of General Idea’s Imagevirus works by AIDS activists and other artist groups at the time, the conversation will engage with what and who is considered “bad” and the liberatory potential of reclaiming f*ggotry.

Ben Miller is a writer and historian living in Berlin. With Huw Lemmey, he is the author of Bad Gays: A Homosexual History (2022), which has been translated into three languages and won the Goodreads Choice Award for History and Biography. A Doctoral Fellow in Global Intellectual History at the Freie Universität Berlin, Miller is a regular contributor to the arts pages of The New York Times and of book criticism and essays to outlets like Baffler and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He is the author of Time Is A Queer Thing (Media Guru Editions, 2019), and The New Queer Photography (Verlag Kettler, 2020). Since 2018, Miller has been a member of the board of the Schwules Museum, one of the world’s largest independent institutions dedicated to archiving and exhibiting queer histories and visual cultures.

Elif Saydam is an artist living in Berlin. They received their BFA from Concordia University, Montréal, and their Meisterschüler from Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main. In their expanded painting practice, Saydam implements the language of ornamentation and embellishment to rearrange systems of valuation and emphasis. Recent solo and group exhibitions include Eviction Notice at Oakville Galleries, Canada; ...schläft sich durch at Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof, Hamburg; Die Wissen at TAXISPALAIS Kunsthalle Tirol, Innsbruck; Lose Enden at Kunsthalle Bern; and F*rgiveness at Tanya Leighton, Berlin. Saydam’s monograph titled TWO CENTS was published by Mousse Publishing in 2022. They are the recipient of the Hessisches Kulturstiftung Atelier Stipendium in New York City for 2024.
Additional information
Meeting point: Gropius Bau, Cinema (Lower ground floor)

Price info: Free admission

Booking: This event will be sound-recorded.