Fever Ray Takes the Plunge: Queer Rage and the Limits of Control

Curator's Note

Eight years after the release of xyr eponymous album, Fever Ray (preferred pronoun: xe) has returned with Plunge. This album marks a noted shift from occult imagery to that of a more playful and queer aesthetic. More politically charged than xyr initial album, Fever Ray explores life post-divorce as xe openly embraces queer identity. In a way, one might read the album music videos as challenging conventions of not just heteronormative patriarchy, but also of homonormativity.

In particular, the music video for "Wanna Sip" (which is Part V of a larger narrative) culminates with a rage that underlies passive acceptance of troubling norms. We see Fever Ray at a dinner table with xyr detached "feminine" captor/lover(?) (though possibly not female identifying - the body paint and styling complicate stable gendered reads), who previously revived Fever Ray from stasis but subsequently abducted xyr. Fever Ray snaps with stabbing gestures, grotesque facial expressions and body language, food smashing, and throwing silverware across the table. Ultimately, xe retaliates against the body of this figure who seems to be portrayed both in terms of violence and sexuality. The video culminates with an odd choreographed dance/fight and ultimate victory of Fever Ray.

As part of the overtly queer narrative, this video suggests the deterioration of what appears to be an already queer relationship. The music video offers the idea of resistance not just of heteronormative oppression, but also aspects of homonormativity that oppress one’s true queer identity or expression therein. One must not forget the margins within the margins, those who are often excluded, even in groups that are traditionally marginalized themselves. Overall, the production offers a sense that acceptance of homonormative conditions is often a limit to resistance. As the decaying appearance of the captor/lover suggests, that acceptance can only last so long before something must give. Fever Ray suggests, then, that one may find oneself fighting even in the face of the familiar to define and liberate oneself. Ultimately, Fever Ray’s videos depict queer liberation and freedom of gender/self-expression, but also challenge the passive acceptance of homonormative spaces.

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