The Against Nature Journal

Initiated in 2014 as a commission by the NGO Legal Agenda and the arts organisation Ashkal Alwan in Beirut, The Against Nature Journal explores “crime against nature” laws and their legacies in order to foster dialogue on sexual and reproductive rights and rethink nature anew. The colonial background of the contra naturam laws is described in the essay The Past and Present of Laws Against Nature.

On the occasion of the initial phase, 98Weeks hosted the presentation of Carlos Motta’s Gender Talents, a web-based project that engages movements and discourses for gender self-determination within trans and intersex communities internationally.

In 2015, Council organised The Manufacturing of Rights, an international pluridisciplinary colloquium at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, that included a number of talks and the film commission Deseos / رغبات by Carlos Motta (2015). The colloquium concluded in the creation of a publication, The Against Nature Journal.

In 2020, The Against Nature Journal took the form of an arts and human rights magazine. After T.A.N.J #1, an inaugural issue devoted to religions and spirituality (Summer 2020), T.A.N.J #2 confronted the theme of migration, a crucial topic when addressing the forced displacement of LGBTQI+ people from contexts where “nature” is still used to criminalize consensual same- sex conduct or gender expression (Winter 2021). T.A.N.J #3 reviews the many ways in which medicine has pathologized non-procreative sexual desire— those bodies that challenge gender binaries or expose different abilities—while imagining other ways of collectively well-being.

Parallel to the publication of the journal, the inquiry became a touring installation called Introduction to T.A.N.J. (Contour Biennial Mechelen, Centre Pompidou, Paris, MAMM Medellin, 2017) and a series of events and booklaunch, including แปร่ง // praeng (A House in Many Parts, Bangkok, 2020), Reading poetry with Divya Victor, Rosa Chavez and P. Staff (online, 2021), Celebrating Binyavanga Wainaina’s Fiction (online, 2021) and Interdisciplinary Perspectives on LGBTQI+ Advocacy (online, 2021).

Aimar Arriola, Grégory Castéra and Sandra Terdjman gave talks about The Against Nature Journal in Centre Pompidou / Cosmopolis Biennial (Paris), Dutch Art Institute (Arhnem), Royal College of Arts (London), Statens Konstråd / Public Art Agency (Stockholm), Violette and Co (Paris) and Wiels (Brussels)

'Manufacturing of Rights', a symposium curated by Council and hosted by Askhal Alwan, Beirut, 2015

Deseos / رغبات , a film by Carlos Motta and Maya Mikdashi, commissioned by Council, 2015

'The Against Nature Journal', an exhibition curated by Council, with works by Joscelyn Gardner and documents by Vanessa Agard-Jones, Zeb Tortorici, Linn Tonstad, Arvind Narrain, Adrian Lahoud, Nayla Geagea, presented at Contour Biennale, Museum of Modern Art Medellin, Centre Pompidou, installation view Contour Biennale, 2016-17

T.A.N.J. is edited by curator and researcher Aimar Arriola and Council co-director Grégory Castéra. Design by Julie Peeters; cover by Stepan Lipatov. Published in Paris, 2020

The Against Nature Journal (T.A.N.J.) is a project by Council.

Initiated with

Legal Agenda and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut

Supported by

Kone Foundation, Foundation for Arts Initiatives and Nordic Culture Point

Cover and top image: Carlos Motta, Deseos, film still