Feminismo en Toma. CUDS. 2012.
Feminismo en Toma. CUDS. 2012.

No Body without Fiction: Towards a Representation of Sexual Dissidence in Chile

Certainty does not exist with respect to the future of the CUDS: There is no way to predict what forces of political-sexual transformation their constituents will translate to “reality” – or not – as their anti-normative impulses question the logic of dominant identities. It does not matter that we cannot pin down the continuities or interruptions, the segmentations, the concentrations, the dispersions, with which the CUDS continue conjugating their diagrammatic multiplicity. Almost more important is the equivocal nature of their desires – their diffuse capacity for radiation – that their operative destination presents a guaranteed functioning in time and space. Just as territories enter and exit, the CUDS stir up the more solidified layers of homosexual revindication and disorder on the familiar map of known identities, without fear of the imprecision, error, and exaggeration that their more transgressive impulses bring forth. -Nelly Richard

Forewarning (Notice):

The following text is a hybrid between a collective manifesto and a programmed textual defragmentation whose objective is to put forward some thoughts regarding the emergence of a Chilean politics of sexual dissent. The next paragraphs intend to establish CUDS´s (University Sexual Dissident Collective) standpoint within the contemporary post-dictatorial Chilean landscape.

Sexual Dissidence

Sexual dissidence implies a critical approach towards the politics that govern our bodies, our subjectivities, and all the representations embedded in them. It is for this reason that sexual dissidence goes beyond granting visibility to the issues that situate certain bodies as minoritarian or excluded; it intends to interrupt both the hetero and homonormative logics of representation, distancing itself from practices of sexual diversity that settle for the establishment of horizontal pathways of communication with the State. Sexual dissidence does not pursue the normalization of practices through institutions like same sex marriage or adoption. Sexual dissidence does not seek to unveil a particular sexual truth, nor does it trust in the closet as an experience; moreover, it intends to destroy the homosexual closet as an epistemologically oppressive category. In that way, sexual dissidence questions the alleged coherence of a sexual order that relies on the man/woman binary by betting instead on a dynamic transit that contests and destabilizes these categorizations. Through a rereading of feminism, sexual dissidence generates deconstructed reinterpretations of unitary identities, starting a dialogue with queer theory and postcolonial studies. However, it also generates tensions and distances itself from the more identitarian and naturalizing fractions of feminism, by questioning its univocal concept of “being a woman”. Sexual dissidence’s utopia is to destroy the notion of gender. Sexual dissidence understands that relying on requests and petitions aimed at a State that surveys and controls is not a strategy that will successfully fracture contemporary exclusionary economic and sexual structures. This is why sexual dissidence relies on the micro political practices of disruption such as cyber-activism, post-pornography and drag parody as alternatives to the prevailing biopolitics.

Poster from the Second Circuit of Sexual Dissidence ¨Por un Feminismo sin Mujeres¨ in 2011. After the circuit, CUDS published a book with a selection of the lectures and a postface of the feminist theorist Nelly Richard.
Poster from the Second Circuit of Sexual Dissidence "Por un Feminismo sin Mujeres" in 2011.

Poster from the ¨Take Gabriela Mistral out of the closet¨ campaign in 2010
Poster from the "Take Gabriela Mistral out of the closet" campaign in 2010.

CUDS Participating in LGTB Pride
CUDS participating in LGBT Pride

CUDS intervention at the 2010 Gay Pride parade in Santiago, Chile.
CUDS intervention at the 2010 Gay Pride parade in Santiago, Chile.

Urban intervention about the Andrés Bello statue. Bello was the founder of the Universidad de Chile
Urban intervention about the Andrés Bello statue. Bello was the founder of the Universidad de Chile

Fiction produced by CUDS
Fiction produced by CUDS

About CUDS:

CUDS is an activist collective that has been active in Chile for more than 10 years trying to position the queer within feminist aesthetic experimentations and micro political practices of resistance. CUDS’s work moves between theoretical production, the academic realm, and the irruption of normative sexual imaginaries. CUDS is a collective without a formal institutional affiliation. CUDS lacks a linear history; we have been staunch communists at times, anarchists or queer at others. We are the frigid, postmodern version of a radical feminist party; post-feminist activists deploying oppositions and mounting fictions, our performances condemned by conservative factions of the Chilean right.[1]

Based in Santiago de Chile, we are a collective that constantly questions normative imaginaries around bodies and sexuality.

The current trap that late capitalism lays out for us is, precisely, organizing our bodies into individual resistances from which we speak from.

A body we should inhabit. We are postfeminist activists immersing ourselves in the right to abortion with our sterile wombs and our confused desires.

While some continue to work on classifications and taxonomizations, we are here with our disobedient bodies to challenge the traditional gender differentiation that, until recently, seemed to constitute us.

When they say “diversity”, we insist on saying “dissidence”

When we speak about “sexual dissidence” in Chile we are referring to a position of singularity. Sexual Dissidence distances us , radically and critically, from other forms of traditional sexual politics such as “sexual diversity”. “Diversity” alludes to innocuous and multicultural semantics which is in compliance with the “tolerance narrative“ of the neoliberal market.

In the post-fordist production system, difference and specificities of “taste” will be highly valued as marketable possibilities, in contrast with standardized production structures of classic Fordism in which heterosexuality was imposed as norm. The gay market is not an example of openness but instead a predictable effect of the need for the diversification of niche economies, applied to sexual subjectivities. Rather than repressing diversity the neoliberal economic model promotes it.

Sexual Dissidence denotes a constant resistance to the dominant sexual system, its economic hegemony and its postcolonial logic.

Even when sexual dissidence seems to share some beliefs with queer theories and politics, we reject the term “queer” as a word that grants an absolute meaning to critical practices in the local space of Latin America. We don’t assume queerness as strategy for identitary auto-representation in Latin America because, by enouncing it in within our cultural geographies, the word loses its political and oppositional strength. On the other hand, placing Chilean sexually dissident practices under the queer nomenclature ignores the genealogical differences of local processes; which have not followed the same political, aesthetical, and reflexive routes as American theories and political practices. However, at the same time, we want to commit to critical queer politics, because within those ideas, we are able to envision possibilities of change in the representations of subaltern bodies.

We are the bastard sons of the Chilean democratic post-transition, born as a response to the institutionalization of gay politics, and the absorption and cooptation of social movements by the hands of the State.

Sexual dissidence challenges the idea of subversive powers being limited to a determined identity (being it lesbian, gay, queer, homosexual, butch, cyborg, transvestite, intersexual, mestizo, transgender, drag, mama-drag [2]). The subversion of both the gender/sex dichotomy and the heteronormative system is not linked beforehand to a particular identity model or to a particular subversive figure but instead to a critical and radical dynamics between a given practice and its context. That which today is regarded as transgressive, could become fascist tomorrow. We don’t believe in queer avant-garde, neither do we believe in a Queer Messiahs. What will our future be? We do not have that answer. We might not even be interested in knowing it.

We are sexual dissidents that work from the fragments, rejecting the idea of totality.

A Double South

CUDS Works in a “Double South”

The idea of the South is our possibility of rejecting and problematizing the normative ideas of sex, gender, and desire. Attention will be focused on the evaluation of the possibilities of transformation that a geopolitics of the sexualities might provide, where the reference to “the South” is not based on a mere essentialist identitarian membership of a subject to the Latin American territory, but more on the tension that the encounter of this “South” with the hegemonic postcolonial queer narratives –which intend to absorb and codify all sexual dissidences- might provoke. This clash between the totalizing queer narratives and the “South” intends to shake the existing paradigms created in metropolitan centers of art and knowledge production.

Tácticas de ficciones sexuales del sur

"Cuando nuestras preguntas tienen resonancia directa con su momento histórico, cuando se nos vuelven imprescindibles, y nos remecen el cuerpo, y nos desbordan, y se nos presentan a ratos como experiencias de lo ininteligible, solo entonces podemos decir que aquello que insistimos en llamar arte, prácticas fugitivas de la inutilidad, pueden realmente impugnar sentidos de rebeldía y disidencia"--Tomás Henríquez Murgas

Sexual fictions are important strategies for imagining possible non-normative sexual politics. We are sexual dissidents and postfeminist activists, mainly from Chile, that work to interrupt the consensual imaginary with ironic provocations that strain the stability of that which is imposed on us as a sole reality. Just as with corporal politics of disuse, we have been educated with a binary logic that can’t continue to resist our bodies and our energies. However, the need to understand –from a non-linear perspective- the history of the bodies that contains us persists. A non-conforming body inserted in the normative practices of a linear, male, hegemonic history. In our quest for sexual resistance, we have acknowledged that the possibility of imagining possible and unappreciable worlds exists within the realm of sexual fiction; as contemporary feminist theory asserts.

We experiment with different aesthetics such as punk, gore, baroque, post-porn, and invisible theater in order to create provocative audiovisual materials.

A sexual fiction is not a concept associated with fakeness but more with the possibility of threatening our normative idea of “reality.” To this extent, we have worked from a collectivity that is always on the verge of annihilation, of ceasing to be a collective that explicitly rejects the north-south categories as the poles of a map that establishes anatomogeographical links in which the north is associated exclusively to rationality and the south to the corporal.

We use performance as a political strategy. We use our bodies to display interference, to “act” in a radical manner. But we also know our bodies are fictions. We have let go of the nostalgic idea that understands performance as present bodies in action, that which thinks of bodies as auratic presences just in the “now” and the “here”. In Latin America the need of the materiality of a body in the performative arts reinforces the notion of Latin America as a continent where everything is “all bodies, nature, and sexuality”; the direct and immediate relationship between a (natural) body and an observer. It is for this reason that we document/record our bodies and actions, we edit them, and we upload

them to Vimeo or YouTube. In that way, we multiply our bodies and actions towards infinity, converting them into immaterial information that becomes available to be downloaded in the vertigo of virtual space.

ideology video

Finally, we reject the idea of a static Latin American identity, as well as the idea of the North being that “who thinks” and the South the one “who feels”; a melancholic identity, all bodies, void of reflection. We experiment with the radical possibility of Latin-American aesthetics in order to hybridize traditional categorizations.

Below you can find videos of the actions: "Dona para un aborto ilegal", "Rubias para el Bicentenario", "Karol Romanoff" and "Ideología"

"Dona para un aborto ilegal"

"Rubias para el Bicentenario"

"Karol Romanoff"


Jorge Díaz Fuentes is a sexual dissidence activist, biologist, poet, and feminist, with a PhD in Biochemistry from the Universidad de Chile. He is the editor of the book “Por un feminismo sin mujeres” Territorios Sexuales Ediciones-CUDS (2011). He has been a member of CUDS since 2008. He has written and published articles on biopolitics, feminist theory and aesthetics, and also participated in art and sexual politics-related conferences.

Felipe Rivas San Martin is a Chilean multidisciplinary and sexually dissident artist and activist. He participated in the founding of CUDS in 2002. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the Universidad de Chile. He has participated in collective art exhibits in Chile, Argentina, Peru, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland, and France. Rivas has written and published essays on queer theory and contemporary art in Latin America.


 [1] Our most recent performance, called “Donate for an Illegal Abortion” (“Dona por un aborto illegal”), relied on cyber activism and the creation of videos that appropiated and ridiculed the aesthetic and discourse of Pro-Life groups, which deny the right to abortion and force women to become mothers. In the action, CUDS activists went to the streets and asked for donations destined to finance illegal abortions, produced viral videos, and created websites. This intervention triggered such a polemical reaction in Chile that CUDS was accused of “Illicit Association” (traditionally associated with terrorist groups and drug related “narco” networks) by “IDEAPAíS” –a far-right connservative organization that rejects progress related to sexual and reprodcutive rights- in the Chilean courts.

 [2] In our local context, ‟mama-drag” refers to the intersection between social class and the failure of feminity in real women. For more on that see ‟Posmenopausia drag: Las mujeres y mi mamá, una relectura disidente de la performatividad, Cristián Cabello.” In Por un feminismo sin mujeres: fragmentos del segundo circuito Disidencia Sexual. (Santiago de Chile: CUDS Editors, 2011).