0 Feet Away
0 Feet Away is a comprehensive four-year field trip research project exploring the queer cruising culture in Azerbaijan and some of its neighboring countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia region. In contemporary society, the term “cruising” refers to the pursuit of sexual encounters between homosexual men in both public and discreetly designated private spaces. Over the past four years, Agil has embarked on a journey to visit about thirty public and private sex spaces in the above-mentioned countries, aiming to collect valuable data on their operations, the significance of fostering queer community bonds, providing safe havens, and contributing to LGBTQ+ liberation.
The research delves into the diverse facets of cruising within profoundly oppressive societies where discriminatory practices against homosexual behaviors persist. A primary objective is to comprehend how homosocialization and sex positivity act as vital pillars in nurturing the queer community and promoting sexual education. It is important to note that these cruising sites are not typically located in gay bars but rather in undisclosed venues, known only to community members due to prevailing societal and federal anti-gay laws. Consequently, cruising interactions remain deeply concealed, occurring in places like dimly lit streets, parks, gardens, and restrooms. Agil has personally visited these sites and meticulously documented his experiences and observations through interviews, conversations, and visual recordings.
As part of the Büchsenhausen Fellowship, Agil will produce a film based on this research. The film aims to shed light on an often-overlooked aspect of queer life, offering rare insights into the challenges and triumphs of queer communities in restrictive cultural contexts. By uncovering the dynamics of queer cruising in these regions, 0 Feet Away contributes to a more nuanced understanding of LGBTQ+ issues and the significance of safe spaces and community-building initiatives.
Text: Agil Abdullayev
Agil Abdullayev is a cross-disciplinary artist from Azerbaijan, manifesting his practice through performance, critical discussions, paintings, video, and film. The semi-biographical practice of Agil examines queer identity and how socio-political domination has shaped it in Azerbaijan and other South Caucasian countries. His films read the queer body as an archive that addresses queer anxieties; they refer to escapism and queer utopia with sci-fi aesthetics. Agil regards his childhood experiences as an archive of personal history, transhistorical memory, and space of hyper-possibility where representations of queer narratives can be disrupted, re-articulated, and reinvented.
Agil holds a BA of Fine Arts from Nottingham Trent University and took part in the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has been awarded by the Prince Claus Foundation and SudKultur Fund and has exhibited at the Liverpool Biennial, The Wrong Biennial, South London Gallery, Photographers’ Gallery, Tate Modern, Asian Art Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Goethe Institut in Baku and Tbilisi, and MoMA Tbilisi.