The Institute of Queer Ecology
"Hysteria" (2023) constructs an ecofeminist retelling of the poorly understood “dancing plagues” that swept through Europe between the tenth and the seventeenth centuries. Likewise referred to as dancing mania, choreomania, and tarantism, these spontaneous social phenomena saw groups of people of all ages and genders, at times in the thousands, dance erratically and without restraint, often until they collapsed from exhaustion or suffered injury and even death. In their recent work, the IQECO subtly recasts the afflicted dancers as pointedly subversive agents entangled in environmental contagion and contamination that drive these wild, manic uprisings.
The Institute of Queer Ecology recorded footage for Hysteria through an artist residency with Light Work in Syracuse; a post-industrial city with its own legacy of water contamination. The work is grounded in the harsh, icy landscape of upstate New York winter, moving between sites of industrial extraction and the waterway tributaries and basins surrounding Syracuse. Navigating the idea of a vanishing “nature” through frameworks of queer futurity, the artists assume a position of critical optimism, in part as a coping mechanism for the pain of living in, engaging with, and loving a biodiverse world that is being undeniably annihilated.