BY Sean Burns in Opinion | 25 NOV 22

Editor’s Picks: The First Edition of HÄN Connects Queer Pasts and Futures

Other highlights include James St James’s Night Fever podcast, plus new and upcoming book releases from Rosanna McLaughlin and McKenzie Wark

BY Sean Burns in Opinion | 25 NOV 22

Frieze Editor’s Picks is a fortnightly column in which a frieze editor shares their recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.


HÄN is a publication and digital archive dedicated to dyke, lesbian, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming communities and their creative heritage. Conceived by fashion designer and creative director Ella Boucht in 2020, HÄN – a Finnish, gender-neutral pronoun – aims to create what it describes on the cover of its inaugural July 2022 edition as ‘a bridge’ which ‘connects the queer past with queer futures’. It’s heartening to see, as someone obsessed with print, that magazines can still provide a physical space around which communities can form or, at least, become galvanized in their own image. 

Self-portrait of the artist couple Ellie Hoskyns-Abrahall and Bel Jude. Courtesy: HÄN; photograph: Anya Gorkova

HÄN proposes a rebuttal to historical queer erasure and, by declaring itself an archive from the off, seems to suggest that, though society can feel hauntological and atomized, the present is still worth preserving and can contribute to the construction of a better future. The latest issue contains conversations, essays, photographs and poetry, including those by regular contributors to frieze: HÄN’s co-founder and editor, Anastasiia Fedorova, penned the opening column, ‘On Archives and Queer Power’, while curator and writer Iarlaith Ni Fheorais is the subject of an insightful interview furnished with snaps by co-founder Anya Gorkova. 

Night Fever
Courtesy: World of Wonder

Night Fever 

James St James’s World of Wonder (WOW) podcast, Night Fever (2022–ongoing), offers a trip through New York club culture. Chances are you’re already familiar with St James’s exploits: his book Disco Bloodbath (1999), chronicling New York’s club kid movement of the early-to-mid-1990s, was adapted into the awful film Party Monster (2003), starring Macaulay Culkin as party promoter Michael Alig and Seth Green as St James.

In Night Fever, St James invites guests, including former club boss Peter Gatien and stalwart nightlife journalist Michael Musto, to discuss everything from Madonna to the Stonewall uprising. Co-hosted with WOW’s founders, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the show indulges voices from US subcultural underworlds, revisiting mythological moments and venues, such as Paradise Garage (1976–87) and the Mudd Club (1978–83). Although Night Fever admittedly slips, at times, into romantic hyperbole – such as when Bailey describes 1990s club kids as the ‘precursor of the metaverse’ – persevere and there are some fascinating insights.

McKenzie Wark
McKenzie Wark, Raving, 2023. Courtesy: Duke University Press

Rosanna McLaughlin, Sinkhole: Three Crimes 

McKenzie Wark, Raving 

I’ve plumped for two very different new releases by brilliant writers: Rosanna McLaughlin’s novel Sinkhole: Three Crimes (Montez Press, 2022), and McKenzie Wark’s forthcoming essay collection, Raving (Duke University Press, 2023), a well-tooled topic on which only a writer as sharp as Wark could induce me to pick up another book.

Sinkhole contains three satirical stories, each tapping into what writer Huw Lemmey describes on the back cover as the ‘maladies of modern England’: Stonehenge goes missing; a porn-addicted writer confronts her past; and a murder rocks a British ex-pat community in Goa. It’s a plentiful year for satire, and McLaughlin’s book reminded me of Ruben Östlund’s depressing but necessary film Triangle of Sadness (2022), worth a watch for the stomach-churning dinner sequence alone.

Rosanna McLaughlin
Rosanna McLaughlin, Sinkhole: Three Crimes, 2022. Courtesy: Montez Press

Wark is a master of brevity and precision, and Raving is no exception; her easy prose avoids the self-indulgent nostalgia that often afflicts writing on this subject matter. (She hasn’t stopped going out; she’s still out.) ‘Some come to serve looks,’ she writes in the opening chapter, ‘Raving as Practice’. ‘Some come to leave their sweat on the dancefloor. I’m the latter kind.’

McKenzie Wark’s Raving is published by Duke University Press in early 2023. 

Main image: HÄN back cover layout (detail). Courtesy: HÄN

Sean Burns is an artist, writer and assistant editor of frieze based in London, UK. His book Death (2023) is out now from Tate Publishing.