‘That’s your speciality, telling people stories they
never imagined – and convincing them it’s reasonable to want to see them come
true’ – writes feminist activist writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes in the
foreword to An Apartment on Uranus.
The book is a collection of newspaper columns by queer
theorist Paul B. Preciado, published in the French daily Libération from 2013
to 2018, which discusses the author's transition in the context of current
social, cultural and political-activist issues and events.
He begins his treatise on the emancipation of
non-binary / queer existence with the metaphor of the farthest planet and the
ancient Greek god. Uranus is the "frozen giant", the coldest planet
in the solar system. In Greek mythology, the god of the sky, husband of
Gaia/Mother Earth, representative of the first, primordial generation of gods,
father of the Titans, including Cronus and the Cyclops. Born from her
castration, Aphrodite Urania, the goddess of male love, considered superior,
and spoken of by Pausanias in The Banquet, in Plato’s dialogue,
distinguishing this celestial phenomenon from terrestrial, mainly heterosexual
love. Karl Heinrich Ulrich, a German gay rights activist who fought for the
rights of the ‘third sex’ and ‘other lovers’, proposed the term ‘Urning’
(Uranism) in 1864 to describe attraction between men.
Gideon Horváth's installation in a former bourgeois
apartment, appearing as a dream-like vision, is inspired in part by this ‘Uranian
journey’, by the personal and collective narratives of fluid-queer existence,
and by the experience of emotional and physical exposure. The interconnected
sculpture-object assemblages of the four spaces thematize the visceral
experience of vulnerability, one of the most complex of basic human conditions.
Horváth thinks of vulnerability not as a passive state of suffering, but as a
liberating form of action, a possible form of resistance. A condition in which
the repressed, ambivalent, in-between, liminal knowledge and positions can be
In the present social context, the body, but
especially the body excluded by patriarchal norms, is rarely seen outside the
political context. Horváth radicalizes vulnerability through intimacy. For the
first time, he uses the fragile, easily malleable yet resilient and enduring
beeswax in coloured form and combines it with his distinctive bronze-cast,
delicately patinated plant motifs. The fragmented and diffuse forms, drawing on
mythological, natural and anatomical allusions: the almost life-size body of a
horse, reminiscent of a running centaur, the overripe fruit-flowers, the organs
exploding from a fictitious body part, all forming an organic collage. The
exhibition ends with an androgynous bust in the final space, born from a
reinterpretation of the classical bust format: an ‘anatomical’ portrait of
Uranus, modelling the permeability of gender and sexuality, and the
possibilities of freedom to exist in fluid bodies.
 Paul B. Preciado, An Apartment on
Uranus. Fitzcarraldo Press, London, 2019. Translation: Charlotte Mandel.