FORTY

Format: Research project
Dates: Jun — Aug 2022
Language: English
Publication: Online



Research, text, design: Chris Gylee

People call me a philosopher or a scientist or an anthropologist. I am none of those things. I am an anamneisologist. I study what has been forgotten. I divine what has disappeared utterly. I work with absences, with silences, with curious gaps between things.
Susanna Clark, Piranesi, 2020

FORTY is an artistic research project exploring 40 years of Queer history by compiling biographical and archival snapshots of 40 of my Queer predecessors alongside creative written responses. Born at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic and faced with the systematic erasure of Queer lives from the historical record, I wish, in my 40th year, to explore the library-archives of the Schwules Museum in Berlin to better understand those who came before me, how they lived, and how their actions shape the world I live in. 
My research will begin in 1983 — my birth year — and work forwards to 2022. I will investigate anniversaries, death dates, imprisonments, love affairs, gender transitions, and more, gathering striking images and biographical evidence from 40 of my Queer elders — one for each year of my life. I will respond to these artefacts with short fictionalised texts reaching towards those memories and experiences that are not explicitly contained in the archive. By using my imagination to animate the gaps in the archival record, I will attempt to forge an emotional link to the life experiences of my Queer elders. The artefacts and texts will be collated into a timeline and shared through a simple website accessible to the public. With this research I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the lives of my Queer elders and develop an artistic methodology that places fictional texts alongside artefact, ephemera, and historical records to create emotional resonance.




The above images include photos and scans taken by Chris Gylee. Additional sources are listed with the images.

FORTY is a #TakeHeart research project by Chris Gylee, supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media within the program NEUSTART KULTUR.


Additional thanks to: Peter Rehberg and the Archiv at the Schwules Museum; Aslan; Kate Gallon; Toria Banks; Cole Collins.