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In Scene (Australia), June 8 2004.
Japan-based artist Terre Thaemlitz is forever leaving underlying messages in his wake. The US born DJ, producer, teacher and writer, once reputed as the next piano virtuoso by his critics, only to blatantly admit he couldn't play a chord, knows society is one hypocrisy he'll never tire from questioning
The interesting part however is the way Thaemlitz approaches his uncertainties. For instance, his concerns on society's categorising system have at times transformed him into a drag queen.
In saying so, to many he may just be written off as freak but to those who know him, it makes perfect sense for his argument on society's classifiers.
"I don't identify as gay, I identify as 'sexually queer'. Basically the roles of gay and straight sexuality in the end just fall apart for me. They don't work and I find them both constraining," Thaemlitz explains.
As confusing as it all sounds, by Thaemlitz playing both sides, he has in fact become the ultimate experiment in blurring the standars of gay, lesbian and straight identities I soon find out. "Well when you say someone's gay or lesbian there are conventions about waht that means, especially now in this year of gay and lesbian matrimony. THose things are all clearly defined and when people kind of differ from those models that are in place, that's when there's trouble in all of those individual communities," says Thaemlitz.
"If you're transgendered, what is my real straight partner or gay partner like? If I'm dressed as a woman and my partner is a woman, does that make me a kind of mutated lesbian? If I'm dressed as a woman and I'm with a man, will people say, 'that's a gay relationship', where do these lines come into play?"
"I'm currently in a monogamous relationship with a woman but my approach is to be open. My experiences with queer bashing have made it difficult for me to feel safe with a lot of men."
In saying so, not only does Thaemlitz reject the identity of 'gay' or 'lesbian' he's probably more judgmental of it than the average person would be. "I'm critical of gay, lesbian and straight culture. For me any kind of entrenched identity, any identity peopel claim is essential to their being, like 'I was born this way'. Anytime someone reduces an argument to that level, to nature and not my doing or society's doing basically eradicates the potential for social change," Thaemlitz explains.
"If you're saying that, everything up until this point, the way gays and lesbians have been treated, the way transgendered people have been treated is natural, for me, it's an incredibly disempowering stance.
"Even in terms of politics, that seems to be the way everybody's going. 'Hey it's not my fault, I can't help it' and then having others say 'OK you're entitled to equal rights then'. In the long run, the way it's going, I think there's something dangerous about it."
Terre Thaemlitz' Australian debut performance of the multimedia piece 'Lovebomb' is at the Powerhouse Saturday, June 12.