Thursday, April 29, 2010

Docu Drama

Watched Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema last night. I suppose I can't be too surprised. I've been on a documentary kick lately (which is atypical) and I can't help but furrow my brow at the sloppy handle of recent narratologies. Linnearity is a hard thing to discern when you're painting broad strokes of a subject that spans years - much like the film last night which runs from Fireworks (1947) to Tarnation (2006)[a gamut that actually showcases little cinematic progression if you get to the heart of these titles' tactic of performativity] or my other recent watch, the leaden Chris and Don: A Love Story. Decades slip by without any narratorial address or reference (Fabulous all but bypasses the 50s) or leap back and forth 2004, then 1998, off to 2006, but don't forget 1999.

I don't watch documentaries because of their artlessness. Ever since television began dictating the format of factual entertainment, I've frequently regarded most documentaries as either an A&E special that I have to pay to see or a visual equivalent to an audio book - a historical account cut down to the nuts and bolts.

Perhaps this is what most offends me about these cinematic accounts. Watching Fabulous!, a film about a movement in which I hold great stake both experiential and academic, the elision of so many important details occasioned many a wince. The film engages in a tidy narrativising of events like the censorship case around Flaming Creatures bypassing a mention of Jack Smith or the film's actual content (Fabulous! seems to take at surface value the nudity that the Supreme Court found so objectionable). Smith is a seminal figure in this movement toward Queer self-representation and performativity. They naturally transition from Smith (or, rather, the seemingly autonomous Flaming Creatures) to Warhol, and, as usual, Warhol gets all the credit. There's no Boys in the Sand, no Rosa Von Praunheim, no Bruce LaBruce, even. Marcus Hu has to bring up Barbara Hammer, but even that feels tacked on (at the film's end they flash a poster for Nitrate Kisses when discussing contemporary documentary output!).

These elisions of political content are further problematized by the elision of recent, straight-to-dvd or on-demand gay narrative features. Eating Out is not mentioned and, sad as it is, films like Eating Out and Latter Days are hugely influential films to the development (deterioration may be a better word) of contemporary gay cinema. Fabulous! ultimately feels like naive fantasy. Or it feels like a filler piece, a social vanity project to warm up to the politics of the gay festival circuit that has crushed the life out of gay themed film by taking it to market, selling personal narratives out to appeal to product sponsors like Absolut. Just glance at successful contemporary gay products. Only Rupaul's Drag Race springs readily to my mind. There, week after week, sponsors are fatuously plugged and absolute elixirs are consumed in the interior illusions lounge.

Mention Eating Out. It's an embarrassment, but its a necessary point if this object is meant as a tutorial, or - better yet - a call to affect change. B. Ruby Rich cheers on the new school of queer youths going through Filmmaking programs with a hopeful eye towards the future. But perhaps the narrowed eyes of the Outfest representative, who chimes in about the normative rom-coms that swelled after the ponderous pictured offered through the New Queer Cinema in the late 90s. He sites Don Roos as the promising future of queer cinema. If that's the case, or if this movie has any indication of the way we engage with or learn from our collective past, we're all in trouble.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

MEAT Screening and Installation May 7

MEAT an installation by Luther Price

Opening Reception Friday May 7, 8:00 – 10:00pm

Louis V E.S.P.

140 Jackson St, #4D Brooklyn, NY 11211

Louis V E.S.P. is excited to announce the installation of MEAT and a screening of the 60‐minute film at 9pm, on May 7th. Meat (1990, 1991) is comprised of film, performance documentation, slide projections and sculptural ephemera in which Boston‐based filmmaker, Luther Price restages a surgical nightmare he endured in the 1986 political uprising in Nicaragua. Shot at close range, his scarred body is a product of that singular traumatic event, repetitive medical routines, and a total revision of self‐consciousness. The single‐channel film is comprised of found surgical footage, gay pornography, performance documents and collage interventions. Luther Price’s work hosts a psychology all its own, a state that the viewer enters into, totally affected by this heart (and gut) wrenching body horror. The project followed Price’s most renowned work, SODOM (1989), an assemblage film that addressed AIDS by juxtaposing gay pornography and biblical catastrophes.

"MEAT is viscerally consuming in its sterile, antiseptic and static giving over of the flesh. Poked, prodded, pinched and disgraced, the humiliated body is sacrificed and the metamorphosis begins ... the fly becomes the shit ... the maggot becomes the bone ... the bone becomes the food ... the food becomes shit and the body becomes the wound ... the institution becomes teeth ... throat and stomach." Luther Price via Canyon Cinema

The installation, organized by Bradford Nordeen, will be accompanied by a complimentary publication of images, illustrations, an essay, and artist writings.