A proposal

Names, labels, categories and binary oppositions are devices supported by language we use to make sense of the world around us. Without them, our surroundings would turn to a chaos of meaning that would be too much for us to bear. We would be left paralyzed, unable to gather sense from what we can perceive.

As useful as they can be, labels when applied tend to flatten or crush their recipients. Labelling often implies gathering a variety of elements in one singular box. Individuals or things often end up reduced to the labels they carry or to the boxes in which they are placed.

Apparently, things cannot exist out of ‘one or the other’ dualities. Being ‘one and the other’ or ‘neither one nor the other’ is out of question if not impossible.

Labels, boxes and binaries are tools that reduce and simplify. They feed hierarchies, as the act of naming is linked to ownership and control: What is named becomes available for the one that names it to grasp.

Ultimately, we cannot get rid of labels. But I think we can try and as Jack Halberstam puts it, become the authors of our own categorizations. And for this to happen, we need to become aware of how labels function in the first place.

I would like to invite whoever is interested to try and take a step back, to look at labels and categories, at how they are made, how they come in action, at what is clumsily crammed into them and at what falls through the cracks in between.

I write about grey, think about grey and look for grey things because they are easy, small gateways out of the binary and out of labels. Grey things are nice little prisms that can project non-binary fragments if you shine a light at them at specific angles. It can be far-fetched, but grey is a familiar thing to most people. It is an easy way to present things non-binary to someone.

It is about finding points of entry to non-binar areas, then breaking in to invite people inside.

To shine light on this topic, actions need to be undertaken. These actions are oriented towards inviting people to engage in discussion and reflexion. ‘Inviting’ is important here. Because it is not about being right, imposing a point of view or facts. It is about generosity, giving and receiving back (whatever it is that can be received). It also implies that the invitation can be declined.

The invitation would most likely take the form of a printed object that could be used as a mediator or starting point for exchange and conversation.

The printed objects would carry content offering points of entry into the topic. They could give visibility, tangibility to voices that challenge the status quo.

The printed object would be the result of a design and publishing process. This process could be collaborative and become a safe space in which opinions and experiences could be shared.