Disgustingly Queer: George Kuchar's Video Diaries
Deegan, Elizabeth M.
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In the realm of underground film and video, George Kuchar is primarily discussed in connection with his twin brother, Mike, and their trash-spectacular narratives that injected the queer underground movement in the 1960s with a taste of the bizarre. Since their amicable split, George not only left their Bronx homestead to teach at the San Francisco Art Institute until his death in 2011, but also made a significant switch from 16mm film to video in 1985. By switching to this more affordable and accessible format, George embarked on what would become a vast body of diaristic videos. Kuchar kept some of the thematic foundations from his collaborative films with Mike, but instead focused on his cross-country travels, mainly his summer-long excursions in Oklahoma, on the lookout for tornadoes. In creating these personal videos, Kuchar presents himself as an affable, unserious person whose life is steeped in lowbrow culture or kitsch aesthetic. Kuchar focuses on the culturally and socially undervalued, and he is not interested in elevating its value status. Instead, he desires to join the muck. This thesis examines Kuchar's video diaries for their specifically queer investment in the debased and devalued. I consider them in relation to the affect of disgust, and I argue that these videos show disgust to be a complex response to "low" forms, whether aesthetic, cultural, or social. Disgust is conventionally understood as a gesture of refusal or aversion, a rejection of the object or value deemed disgusting. Kuchar's queer form of disgust, by contrast, savors impropriety and excess, and revels in the violation of boundaries.
- OSU Theses