Article Title

Camp Materialism

Document Type



“Camp” is a phenomenon that is as fickle as it is undertheorized. Usually loosely associated with and denigrated as a gay aesthetic that borders on kitsch, on closer inspection it turns out to be an object of study that is both fascinating and highly complex in its aesthetic, ethical, and political aspects. When the phenomenon has seriously been addressed at all, it has usually been discussed with regard to camp gender performance and its potential to highlight the historical contingency of gender identities. This essay will propose a perspective that supplements such a critical project of reading history in what presents itself as nature by turning to the dimension of nature in history. The camp aesthetic of Jack Smith is a rich source of material in this endeavor. It brings a serious, materialist side of camp into the field of vision – a side, however, that could not be adequately described if we followed the usual conceptualization of camp in terms of irony, parody, and aestheticism.