26 Apr 2021 · 7.00 pm

Tim Dean: How to Have Sex in a Pandemic

Venue: ICI Berlin, Christinenstr. 18–19, Haus 8, 10119 Berlin
Organized by Hanna Hamel (ZfL), Apostolos Lampropoulos (Université Bordeaux Montaigne), Peter Rehberg (Schwules Museum)
Contact: Hanna Hamel
Lecture by Tim Dean (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) as part of the online lecture series Intimacy, with Ben Nichols and Peter Rehberg

Queer-theoretical accounts of intimacy in particular have been decisively shaped by readings of art and literature and psychoanalytic reflection. In this context, Tim Dean’s 2009 Unlimited Intimacy: Reflections on the Subculture of Barebacking has presented a crucial intervention. For Dean, the practice of condom-less sex and ‘breeding’ becomes a place to reinvent community and ethics. For the past ten years, Dean’s thinking has evolved around questions of infection, pharmaceutical regimes, and the forms of the self and the social that come with them. His talk “How to Have Sex in a Pandemic” echoes the title of Douglas Crimp’s seminal 1987 essay about AIDS “How to Have Promiscuity in an Epidemic?”

This lecture series takes queer theory’s conversation about intimacy as a starting point to discuss some of its cultural possibilities, mediated forms, and philosophical trajectories in the context of Corona. It is part of the public program of the exhibition Intimacy: New Queer Art from Berlin and Beyond at Schwules Museum.


In cooperation of the ICI Berlin, the ZfL research project Neighborhood in Contemporary Berlin Literature and the Schwules Museum. Supported with funds form the Capital Cultural Fund (HKF).

The event will take place online via Zoom.


Fig. above: © Spyros Rennt: Hanging out at Ludos, 2020 (detail), part of the exhibition “Intimacy: New Queer Art from Berlin and Beyond” at Schwules Museum


Online lecture series Intimacy

In the time of Corona, intimacy is precarious: as an experience we are in danger of losing, but also one we are nostalgically mourning or re-imagining for a future to come. What does a pandemic and its cultural, social, and technological consequences, such as the protection from others and the disappearance of social encounters and bodily contact, teach us about intimacy? How does Covid-19 change our understanding of intimate moments?

In the context of queer culture and theory, intimacy has had a peculiar position for quite some time. For intimacy is not necessarily the scene in which identities are formed or affirmed. Queer theory has emphasized intimacy as a site where identity is left behind and new forms of the self can emerge, for example in forms of public sex, or what Leo Bersani calls ‘impersonal intimacy.’ One might say that intimacy itself is a queer phenomenon.


Full program of the lecture series

Thursday, 11 Feb 2021, 19.00
Susanna Paasonen: Infrastructures of Intimacy and the Deplatforming of Sex

Wednesday, 24 Mar 2021, 19.00
Jean-Luc Nancy: Touche-touche

Monday, 26 Apr 2021, 19.00
Tim Dean: How to Have Sex in a Pandemic