Masquerades of Research

Friday, Mar 26, 2021 – Sunday, May 9, 2021

Screening, Talk
Online Program
In English

Screening Masquerades of Research: Part I (30 min) by Padraig Robinson, followed by a conversation between David P. Keys (author and professor of criminal law, New Mexico State University) and Padraig Robinson (artist, Berlin)

Masquerades of Research: Part 1 is a dialogic character study exploring the broader social impetus of Laud Humphreys’ infamous 1968 dissertation in Sociology, Tearoom Trade. The study was based on observations made in public restrooms in St. Louis, colloquially called “tearooms,” where homosexual men of different socioeconomic classes engaged in sexual contact. With his controversial research methods, in which he observed sexual acts as a voyeur, or so-called watchqueen, and conducted interviews, Humphreys deliberately broke with the ethical protocols of science. Robinson explores Humphrey’s intentions and the context of his research as well as the personal and professional impact of the study on Humphrey’s career. The conversation between Robinson and David P. Keys, who has researched Humphreys’ work, negotiates the progressive and controversial aspects of Tearoom Trade in light of contemporary surveillance technologies and changing connotations of “private” and “public.”

Tearoom Trade is not a study of deviance, but an amazing, albeit infuriating for some, demonstration of the efficacy of discontinuous, particularlist, and local structures, carried on under the radar of the totalizing theory and practice of compulsory heterosexuality then in force, albeit soon to meet serious opposition, in the early 1970s. In a very real sense, Humphreys is the prophet of postmodernism in the United States, and where the Europeans used criminality, insanity, ontology, and art to embark on the postmodern condition, America’s threshold rested at the doors of public toilets.” (David P. Keys)

Dr. David P. Keys is an associate professor of Criminal Justice at New Mexico State University. His research interests include urban studies, research methods, as well as narcotics and addiction. Dr. Keys has consulted with municipal, county, and state governments for 17 years on corrections and sentencing issues. His dissertation in Sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia was a biographical treatment of the career of drug researcher Alfred Lindesmith, which was published as Confronting the Drug Control Establishment (2000) with John Galliher. His investigation into the groundbreaking yet controversial research methods of American sociologist Laud Humphreys, led to the book Laud Humphreys: Prophet of Homosexuality & Sociology (2005). His other publications include Symbolism and Death: Political Theatre and Capital Punishment in America (with Corina L. Infante, 2016) and Race and the Death Penalty (with R. J. Maratea, 2016).

Padraig Robinson is an artist writing books and screenplays inquiring into pre-queer history as well as the contemporary economy of the image. He received his master’s degree at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem in 2013, and was a 2019–2020 Visual Arts Fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude. To write the film Masquerades of Research, Robinson consulted the Laud Humphreys Papers at ONE Gay and Lesbian Archives at the USC Library, University of Southern California in Los Angeles. His research was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. From 2014 to 2017 he researched the Irish Queer Archive, which lead to Gaze Against Imperialism, published as a book by Metaflux Publishing in 2019, and launched as a reading room installation in the exhibition CHROMA at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. Recently, his works were shown and screened at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (2020/2021) and Flat Time House, London (2020). The film Masquerades of Research: Part I was acquired by the Collection of the Arts Council, Ireland in 2020.