Soft Subversions is the debut release by House of Intergenerational, the DJ platform for Toronto-based artist and clinical sonician Andrew Zealley. Published as a 2LP vinyl gatefold edition of 250 numbered copies with a two-sided poster/insert of visuals and notes, Soft Subversions is the sonic culmination of six years of research into risk, art, and sex in the era of AIDS industry: listening to risk and risky artistic and sexual practices as a method of aesthetic self-creation.
Soft Subversions features poet/vocalist Robert Bolton, and artists and activists Alan Belcher, Anthea Black, Faizal Deen, Jessica Karuhanga, Shan Kelley, Tim McCaskell, and Simon Muscat. The result is a listening experience that seeks to conjure seminal disco dancefloors, gay bar backrooms, and the kinds of ludic, radical, and risky sexual practices that write historical and evolving narratives of risk-taking over four decades of HIV and AIDS. This persistent dialectic—or dynamic continuum—of risk includes outlaw and so-called risky sex practices (anonymous, bathhouses, cruising and public sex) that have thrived in every era, and art and activism that responds to the AIDS crisis while simultaneously encouraging forms of personal agency and sexual citizenship. From Continental Baths manager Steve Ostrow’s introduction to a Met soprano’s 1974 performance at the infamous New York City venue, Faizal Deen’s poetic rage over protecting the disco as a sacred site of queer power, discussions of mental illness and disco mystics, and field recordings made in gay bathhouses that draw the listener into different sonic scenarios, including a darkroom cluster fuck of men gathered around a leather-and-chain sling where a couple is fisting: Soft Subversions isn’t just about risk and art and sex, it is risky, sexual art that demands deep listening.