Paul B. Preciado

Curator and theorist in the fray of debates on gender and identity

The artworld’s recent turn towards sexual politics, gender identity and the ‘queering’ of its discourses and histories has been accompanied by the rise in influence of philosopher and activist Paul B. Preciado. The author of Contrassexual Manifesto (2000), Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics (2008) – which takes Preciado’s ‘slow transition’ as the starting point for a study on our ‘pharmacopornographic’ culture – and Pornotopia (2010), he worked as director of the Independent Studies Programme at MACBA, Barcelona, before taking on Documenta 14’s public programme. Entitled ‘The Parliament of Bodies’, it initially drew fire from all sides – from the right, for the unrepentantly leftist tone of Preciado’s inaugural text; from those who questioned what performance symposia had to do with art; from the left, who argued that the Athens-based part of the programme might address local crises rather than technology and consciousness, anticolonialism and queerness. But amid a recent slew of sprawling research-based exhibitions and crossovers between art and activism, Preciado’s approach appears not only justified but agenda-setting.