{ staging }


Staging is the provision of a space for narrative scenery, as in the theater. This word is also used in the real estate business, where the term “home staging” describes the preparation of a flat with furniture and items resembling the coziness of a “possible” home, staged for a possible buyer. In the military, a “staging area” is a site where weapons, equipment, and people are assembled to gain an overview in preparation for later use.

In the theater, the preparation is for a play, whose outline is known by the ones activating it, while the ones watching are meant to be inactive during its course. The real estate market wants to make a profit by narrating “a room of one’s own” and then selling the scene. In the military, the outcome is victory over an enemy. In today’s exhilarating neoliberal capitalism, any outcome is equal to a monetized and accordingly valued situation, as is the time leading up to it.

Biopolitically speaking, heterosexuality as a term and concept was constructed as part of a social outcome: the birth of new workers and the continuation of cultural identity. This is not to say that normativity is impossible in queerness or has not already seeped into it. Yet, these queer encounters are, by default, failures in terms of societal outcomes: no children will be produced, and clear gender roles with their gendered tasks are disrupted.

Queerness in this sense could be understood as a danger of incalculability. One could even say that this queerness is able to be experienced by everyone: who can really live up to an ideal, calculable society? We all fail constantly.[1]

I wonder, therefore, if the concept of staging could be used to think about the action of providing space with an open outcome; to think about narrative potentiality. Borrowing from Lauren Berlant’s ideas on infrastructures, this is a potentiality that does not know the outcome of a situation nor predict its course; rather, it actively stages [provides] space for encounters.[2] It engages staging as a mode of hostipitality.


[1] I owe the idea of failing as a concept to: Judith Halberstam. The Queer Art of Failure. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); and the importance of orientation to: Sara Ahmed. Queer Phenomenology. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).
[2] “Infrastructure, then, is another way of talking about mediation – but always as a material process of binding, never merely as a material technology, aesthetic genre, form, or norm that achieves something. Mediation is not a stable thing but a way of seeing the unstable relations among dynamically related things.” Lauren Berlant. On the Inconvenience of Other People (Durham: Duke University Press, 2022) 22.


Sebastian Moske