The narrative at the heart of James Baldwin’s novel shows how private space can be transgressed, or transgressive: “I’ve been living in Giovanni’s room for months,’ says David, “and I just can’t stand it anymore.” Afraid of being “locked... forever in that room,” he abandons Giovanni to his poverty and his emotional need.
Giovanni’s room is necessarily dark: blinded windows remind us that light and sight tell stories of visibility and conjure politics of representation. In the novel’s dark room, private desire and disgust can be dialectically operational. By extension, queer space such as the darkroom and the club might be celebrated, or not, within that same dialectic.
- Excerpt from Program Text ‘Giovanni’s Dark Room’ by Zander Porter and Thomas Butler