Imminent Queerness: Temporal Excess in the Works of Jenkin Van Zyl and Ryan Trecartin

Originally presented atCineExcess 13 Conference, Birmingham City University, 2019.

Image from Jenkin Van Zyl’s “Looners”.

For full text please click the link at the bottom.


This paper focuses on works by contemporary video artists Jenkin Van Zyl and Ryan Trecartin. In their works, Van Zyl and Trecartin can be seen to employ excess in their characters through ludic, absurd drag aesthetics, their obliterated narratives that are highly fragmented both spatially and temporally, their sound design which layers and distorts speech, diegetic and non-diegetic sound, and their erratic editing and rhythmic structures. By implementing excess in these various areas, both artists disturb classical narrative forms and thus undermine typical trajectories of desire. Through their multifaceted frames of excess, Van Zyl and Trecartin create video works that are often shown in gallery spaces loop with no clear indication of beginning and/or end. Spectators are bombarded with information that is registered imminently as action is not dependant on a cause and effect logic. With reference to Todd McGowan’s work on capitalism’s temporal logic of the future (discussed in Capitalism and Desire: The Psychic Cost of Free Markets, 2016), Van Zyl and Trecartin’s works can be understood as critiquing hetero culture and capitalism simultaneously through a formal rejection of the impossible fantasy of a satiating object of desire. Whilst the works operate outside of realist or naturalist aesthetics, they do not employ fantasy in the sense that they do not present lacking subjects who are subsequently fulfilled. Thus, these works articulate and embody queerness, not understood as a posturing of identity, but by showing figures breaking out of capitalist and heteronormative temporal logic through subversive subjectivity rendered by excessive forms of time and space in the moving-image format. For more info on Trecartin: For more info on Van Zyl: For more ino on CineExcess:

>> Read the paper!>> On my Academia page.

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