The Queer Gaze

In 2023, the cultural center Oceanen presented its very first literary program series, The Queer Gaze, which recently received Nöjesguiden’s Gothenburg prize in the category of Club of the Year. As part of the series, we invited queer poets and writers to curate an evening on Oceanen’s stage based on various themes. The concept of “The Male Gaze” was coined by Laura Mulvey to describe the gaze that views women as objects for heterosexual male pleasure. In response to this, “The Female Gaze” emerged as a way to overturn the object and position women as observers. With the program series The Queer Gaze, Oceanen elaborates further on these terms by deconstructing all gender-based power dynamics through the queer gaze, allowing the authors to act as subjects and thus tell their own stories.

Line up spring 2024

In 2024, we continue the program series by inviting curators from across the Nordic region.

The year began on Valentine’s Day with an evening curated by Sweden’s literature ambassador Nioosha Shams, who recently released her poetry collection “Teshne”, published by Nirstedt/förlag. In March, the realms of literature, film, and dance converge on Oceanen’s stage with an evening curated by author and choreographer Sandy Ceesay. In April, poets Mona Monasar and Frej Haar open up the queer archive. The spring series concludes in May with an evening in solidarity with Palestine, curated by BAM (Burcu Sahin, Athena Farrokhzad, Merima Dizdarević).

You can find information about each program below. Welcome to Oceanen!

14/2: The Queer Gaze curated by: Nioosha Shams

Historians will call them lovers
More information can be found here.

21/3: The Queer Gaze curated by: Sandy Harry Ceesay

Physical practice as resistance

On March 21st, the realms of literature, film, and dance converge on Oceanen’s stage. Under the theme “Physical practice as resistance,” three different physical artists are invited by Sandy Harry Ceesay to discuss transgressive movement practices and the body’s conditions for resistance, self-expression, and community. The evening includes everything from workshops in movement and writing to short film screenings and readings.

Mona Namér is a dancer and choreographer from Gothenburg, based in Stockholm. She trained at Broadway Dance Center in New York with a focus on Hip Hop and Modern Dance and has since traveled and worked between Paris, New York, London, and Johannesburg.

Sandy Harry Ceesay is a dancer and performing artist. He graduated from the Amsterdam University of the Arts (AHK) and is a member of the writing collective Qalam. In 2022, he made his debut as an author with “Kärlekens exil” published by Albert Bonniers förlag.

Lizette Romero Niknami is a poet, writer, and writing teacher. In 2019, she made her debut with “De försvunna” published by Albert Bonniers förlag. She has previously been active in the music and text collective Kons(t)pirationen.

19/4: The Queer Gaze curated by: Mona Monasar och Frej Haar
I want to recreate what might have been, unearth our existences.

In lieu of absence, we return to the archives. To find a family, a kinship. To remind ourselves that we are tangible even when our historical contours seem (murky). An act of care and (be)longing. Some would say that “the problem lies in the fluidity of the queer heritage/places, their immateriality; the places disappear. The substance is not left.” I don’t know if I necessarily agree. In our memories, they exist, because we remember.

During the evening, Mona Monasar and Frej Haar will explore together what the archives and memories mean for a queer creative practice. Together with you, we’ll establish an archive of all our late nights out, first kisses, heartbreaks, empty snus boxes, and really whatever the hell you’ve left your little homosexual, transgender, bisexual, beloved mark on

Mona Monasar is a poet and writer who tries to explore the voids created by absence through writing.

Frej Haar is a poet, writer, and hoarder who finds it difficult to let go. They visit graves, collect, edit Wikipedia, collect more, write letters about it, and just try to do something with all the longing and absence that occupies a lot of their time.

24/5: The Queer Gaze curated by: Burcu Sahin, Athena Farrokhzad och Merima Dizdarević
The Queer Gaza – an evening in solidarity with Palestine

On May 24th, the poetry collective BAM, consisting of poets Burcu Sahin, Athena Farrokhzad, and Merima Dizdarević, will come to Oceanen for a program in solidarity with Gaza, focusing on queer literature and activism. The evening’s guests of honor are Palestinian authors Somaya El Sousi and Wesam Almadani from Gaza, both former sanctuary writers in Norway.

BAM comprises poets Burcu Sahin, Athena Farrokhzad, and Merima Dizdarević, who together have written, among other works, “Ööööverenskommelse för Sverige;” a poetic response to the Tidö Agreement and the poem “Vila i strid.” Burcu Sahin made a notable debut with “Broderier” for which she received the Katapult Prize, Athena Farrokhzad is one of Sweden’s most talked-about and acclaimed poets, Merima Dizdarević works across art forms and debuted in 2022 with “långt från ögat långt från hjärtat,” which was also nominated for the Katapult Prize.

Somaya El Sousi fled from Gaza in 2019 and was a sanctuary writer in the Norwegian town of Horten for several years. Today, she resides in Norway and works at a library café. She debuted in 1998 and has since published five poetry collections. This spring, her poetry collection “En flöjt av mörker” translated into Swedish by Hanna Hallgren, Jenny Tunedal, and Anna Jansson will be released by Ellerströms förlag.

Wesam Almadani is an author and activist based in Norway. Almadani has published the novel “Kroppens schizofreni” as well as several collections of poems and short stories. Her works have been translated into English, Norwegian, Swedish, Hebrew, and Italian.


The autumn program kicked off with Khaled Alesmael, a Syrian-Swedish author and journalist who has been honored with several awards. On September 21st, he visited us to curate an evening with a film screening and discussion about his writing, alongside journalist Sofia Sidén. On October 19th, authors Ida Linde and Kristofer Folkhammar came to explore the essence of humanity based on questions from the audience. On November 24th, the translator Ylva Emel Karlsson celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of “Stone Butch Blues” with readings and discussions on translation as a queer practice.

The poet Hanna Rajs concluded the autumn program on December 15th with “Historians will call them close friends;” an exploration of queer friendship. The program challenged the traditional heteronormative narrative where intimacy is often reserved for romantic love.

During spring 2023, poets and writers such as Nino Mick, Judith Kiros, and Leif Holmstrand took to the stage at Oceanen. The premiere evening was curated by Nino Mick who, along with musician Alba Omega, invited the audience to a stage experiment where their own texts met music in a cross-disciplinary collision. Judith Kiros presented the theme ‘Sapphic Fragments’ on the second occasion. During the third event, Leif Holmstrand invited the audience to performances, music, and readings on the theme of ‘Transitions’.

A special thanks to:

The Queer Gaze has been made possible with support from the Swedish Arts Council, ABF (Workers’ Educational Association), and the Ideell Kulturallians (Non-Profit Cultural Alliance). The 2023 program was conducted in collaboration with SAQMI, the Swedish Archive for Queer Moving Images, and QRAB, the Queer Movement’s Archive and Library. The 2024 events are organized in collaboration with the Women’s Folk High School in Gothenburg, where students from the writing course “Your Silence Will Not Protect You” are invited to read their work on Oceanen’s stage.

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