In 2017, queer Chicanx artist Ken Gonzales-Day put on an elaborate installation, titled Bone-Grass Boy, of glossy photographs, sculpture, mural, and mixed-media all seemingly taking place within the nineteenth-century US-Mexico borderlands. Accompanying the photographs is an old manuscript, also titled Bone-Grass Boy: The Secret Banks of the Conejos River, written by Ramoncita Gonzales in 1892. Gonzales-Day’s piece was inspired by a photograph he saw of his ancestor, a gender ambiguous person possibly named Ramoncita. Bone-Grass Boy, I suggest, is a type of speculative and performative archival practice through which Gonzales-Day brings together the erased histories of people of mixed racial, gendered, and sexual identities. I argue that the manipulation of media such as photography and the creation of a speculative archive is a type of queer archival practice that offers Ramoncita a place in history through Gonzales-Day’s queer present. I call this methodology “queer archival autoethnography,” which keeps close eyes on one’s own performative position in the archive, refusing any subject-object divide as well as past-present divide of either privileged or minoritarian archival encounters.
Queer Archival Autoethnography in Ken Gonzales-Day’s Bone-Grass Boy
Ren Heintz is an Assistant Professor of English at California State University, Los Angeles, and the Director of the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities. They received their PhD in English from the University of California, San Diego. Heintz’s scholarship has been published in, GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, American Quarterly, Studies in American Fiction, and is forthcoming in The New Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies via Cambridge University Press. Their work has been supported by the ACLS and Mellon Foundations. Their manuscript in progress is titled, Racist Attachments: Queer Genealogies of Sex and Desire in Early America.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Ren Heintz; Queer Archival Autoethnography in Ken Gonzales-Day’s Bone-Grass Boy. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2022; 8 (2): 156–179. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2022.8.2.156
Download citation file: