This essay seeks a new language, rooted in the concept of relay, for the politics of queer cultural production and representation. Relay refers to a cultural process of catching and passing on across the divides of sexual difference and capital. To make its operation concrete, the essay draws from ethnographic research on the production and festival release of Desert Motel, Liza Johnson's short film (USA; 2005) about butch embodiment. The analysis sidesteps the familiar anxiety that queer encounters with market culture spell sexual, political, and artistic downfall for queer worlds, and explores more openly the relations among tale, style, funding, personnel, production practice, and release in a film scene that seeks visual transparency for queer feeling, career possibility for queer filmmakers, and new recognition effects for queer and nonqueer audiences. It imagines queer producers (some, anyway) as relay artists working across cultural and market subsectors, doing something more sexually, aesthetically, and politically distinct than crossover dreaming.
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