Thursday, July 30, 2009

The number 149 bus to Dalston

An extract from my MA thesis, "On transdrogyny as an art practice and an identity."

Sometimes, when an artist's ambitions (if even so defined) are indistinguishable from that person's life, what they produce can no longer be discussed as an art object (sculpture, painting etc) or even a live art event/happening/performance. Instead they have created an artistartwork, something decidedly less staged than Gilbert and George's life-as-perfomance-art, which may seem like a contradiction in terms, but darling, with transdrogyny anything goes.

Artistartworks do not require a conceptual framework or a pre-written proposal, they are the complete and unadulterated expression of artistic and social concerns by all means necessary. They are not performances (though they can be) nor are they projects which run, like a science experiment, for a set period of time to explore the relationship between A and B. This is not Eleanor Antin's King of Solana Beach ,but Quentin Crisp's purple-haired daily strolls around the Lower East Side, and the Marchesa Luisa Casati's couture clad appearances at the opera, doused in chicken's blood.

If I may be so bold, and face it, I may, trandsdrogyny restores humanity to an art world able only to communicate self-referentially, with itself. There is no fourth wall with the transdrogynous artistartwork, no often caricatured gallery attendant, because the artistartwork is lived right out in the open, on the street, as much as it is expressed on museum walls and theatre stages. Any member of the public can (and usually will) ask a question of the transdrogynous artistartwork because she is not cordoned off in a white cube and coded as far to intellectually challenging for someone of your mental capacities. Debates about aesthetics, sexual practices and identity politics are opened every time I get on the 149, and I am quite happy about it – as Crisp himself once said to a fellow passenger; “Yes Madame, even people like me need to take the bus.”

Of course artistartworks do produce objects, performances, books and plays, but if you are to divorce these products from their producers then you greatly reduce their value. The Marchesa's impact as a patron,inspiration and facilitator of Futurism is undeniable but if you remove the life she lived from the equation all you are left with is souvenirs. Man Ray's photographs of her and D'Annunzio's poems become akin to the jewels she hocked in later life, anecdotal and decorative at best.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Infinite Variety

The theatre, the theatre!
What rule book says theatre must insist only inside some ugly building?
Do you want to know what theatre is? A flea circus. Also, opera.
Also rodeos, carnivals, the ballet, native America tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one man band - all theatre.
Wherever there is magic and make-belive, and an audience, there is theatre.
Donald Duck, Ibsen, and the Lone Ranger.
Sarah Bernhart and Sandra Bernhard, Poodles Hannefort, Kiki and Herb.
Penny Arcade, Peaches Christ, Pina Bausch, Lindsey Kemp, Legs Malone.
Flash mobs, David Blaine, Hampton Court Palace, Siegfrid and Roy, Lois Weaver - all theatre.
You don't understand them all, you don't like them all. Why should you?
The theatre is for everyone - including you - but not exclusively.
Don't approve or disapprove; it may not be your theatre but it's theatre, for somebody, somewhere.

(Adapted from "All About Eve" for "Infinite Variety", a new production I'm co-starring in, which opens this September in London).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Spot the difference

La JohnJoseph

La Roux

My 11 year old sister thought she was me, or rather, that I was her.

Who needs to make an official announcement?

Drag out: La JohnJoseph cancels shows

Posted in Upstaged by Adam Feldman on July 24th, 2009 at 2:14 pm
The HOT! Festival just lost one of its most distinctive flames with the announcement that the gender-casual English raconteur and singer La JohnJoseph, who was scheduled to perform two shows in New York this week, has had to pull out before coming. It seems there has been some problem vis-à-vis a visa.
We are disappointed with this news, as we had been looking forward to seeing the stylish androgyne in a full new show. La JohnJoseph’s Saturday slot at Dixon Place at 8pm will be sublet by Lavinia Co-Op, Glenn Marla and Laryssa Husiak; and his half of a July 30 double bill with Joseph Keckler at the New Museum will be occupied by the rising young performer and zine eroticist Max Steele. Good substitutes all, but we look forward to seeing La JohnJoseph set up camp on our shores again soon.

(From Time Out New York)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

May God's Love Be With You

Marwa el-Sherbini an Egytian Muslim, a former handball champion, living in Dresden, with her husband a genetic engineer, and their three year old son. Marwa el-Sherbini at the park, last Summer, dressed as usual, wearing her headscarf, playing with her son.

27 year old Alex W. from Russia takes offense at her presence, calls her a terrorist, screams that she is an "Islamist whore" when she asks that he let her kid sit on the swing.

Marwa takes her assailant to court, she presses charges of "insult and abuse" against him.

Whilst Marwa el-Sherbini is testifying against him in Dresden, standing up in front of the whole court, Alex W. stalks over and to the witness box, stabs her eighteen times. And when her husband rushes in to rescue her (and their unborn second child) the police shoot him - mistaking him for her attacker. Marwa el-Sherbini is dead, her husband is in intensive care, their three year old son watches it all.

The European press have largely ignored the murder, no surprise there.

Just a few weeks ago President Sarkozy of France, announced plans for a total ban of the burka. "It will not be welcomed in the territory of the French Republic," he says, as if East-West relations weren't at an all time explosive high. As if a government has any right to announce what its citizens wear. As if a blanket ban ever helped anyone but the politician who suggested it.

I have complicated feelings towards organized religions, especially in relation to their attitudes to women and other sexual minorities, I am not postively pro-hijab. I am however pretty sure that Europe's growing Islamophobia is damaging, destructive and ill-considered. Attacks like this are growing in number, to hear of them puts one in mind of the pogroms in Russia 100 years ago. How long is it going to take us to get it into our thick skulls that no amount of scapegoating is going to sort out the mess we've all made of the world, and no amount of blood shed is going to prove our personal spiritual/agnostic/atheist beliefs true.

All paths lead to God, that is except maybe this bloody one we're walking.