UTOPIC FANTASY / INFINITE GENDER / EXPERIMENTAL HISTORY

Curated by Xander Marro

"Utopic Fantasy/Infinite Gender/Experimental History," designed and printed by Olivia Horvath

“Utopic Fantasy/Infinite Gender/Experimental History,” designed and printed by Olivia Horvath

Utopic narrative often leans towards the future, plumbing and prophesying worlds to come, offering a fantasy of “becoming,” idyllic tomorrows and possible (beautiful) new approaches to consciousness. But what happens when that longing turns backwards and marches into the past, or into the vague netherworlds of memory? Walking hand in hand with that question is the query: what happens when gender binaries shatter and eyeballs awaken to a whole new visible spectrum of gender expressions?  The following films/performances will be presented as offerings in service to these questions: Maggots and Men by Cary Cronenwett; Happy and Gay by Lorelei Pepi; AI NA IV by Maralie; No Man’s Land by ISLANDS; and Banquet, a collaboration by Nell Gross, Katrina Silander Clark and Julia Moses.

TRT: approx. 90 mins.

Maggots and Men, Cary Cronenwett, 2009, 16mm on DVD, b&w, sound, 55 min
“Set in a mythologized post revolutionary Russia, but based on actual historical events, MAGGOTS marshals early Soviet cinema, the gutter erotics of Jean Genet, and what at times seems like a transgender cast of thousands to build its case for the necessity of queer utopias” (Matt Sussman, BayGuardian).

MAGGOTS AND MEN is an experimental historical narrative set in a mythologized, post-revolutionary Russia that re-imagines the story of the 1921 rebellion of the Kronstadt sailors with a twist of gender anarchy.  Agit-prop theater group Blue Blouse guides us through the story, which is narrated by fictionalized letters written by Stepan Petrichenko, the leader of the Provisional Revolutionary Committee. The Kronstadt sailors had a long tradition as radicals and fierce warriors, which began with the failed revolution of 1905 (the subject of Battleship Potemkin). MAGGOTS AND MEN dramatizes the tragic events of March 1921 that ensued when the Kronstadt sailors drafted a resolution that supported the factory workers on strike in St. Petersburg. Through an imagined love story between their leader, Stepan Petrichenko, and another sailor, Yuri Kilgast, the viewer experiences the break-up of cohesion at Kronstadt as the island community is torn apart by the oppressive response from the Bolshevik government.

MAGGOTS AND MEN positions the struggle for gender equality within a larger struggle for peace and justice. Painting the brief success of communal society at Kronstadt as a fanciful utopia, MAGGOTS AND MEN transports us to a realm where we can dream of alternatives to capitalism.
The film is set in the all-male environment of a Russian Naval base, then cast with actors from a range of masculine gender expressions, thus redefining maleness, challenging binary gender constructs, and intentionally creating confusion. Furthermore, the film documents a rapidly evolving transgender community and illuminates the gender revolution currently taking place in our society.

Happy and Gay, Lorelei Pepi, 2014, video, b&w, sound, 10.5 min
HAPPY AND GAY is a revisionist history document reflecting the classic 1930’s-styled cartoon musical misadventure. It responds to early animation’s acts of censorship, prejudice and stereotype by placing a positive representation of gay and lesbian characters into the narrative. Stereotypes are embedded as historical markers, contextualizing the conversion. The resulting representation makes it a document that could not have existed at the time it refers to.

AI NA IV, Maralie, 2014, video, color, sound, 8 min
In AI NA 1V, a brand new video by Maralie, the time of memory is not ruled by an iron glove, but by a fleshy hand visible through a lacelike netting. A myth of spiritual significance is beckoned by this hand, calling upon intuition and pleasure. No man has made this, this is no history.

No Man’s Land, ISLANDS, 2014, performance/video, color, live soundtrack, 10 min
Jason Curzake and Shey Rivera are a performance duo that explore dreams and memories of their native islands through video, body and word. Gender, identity, ritual, and sexuality are explored through body, technology, witchcraft, and decadence. ISLANDS is active and progressive. It incorporates any medium that this progression may call for: bodies, visceral action, light, projection, installation, poetry, video, music and song. Shey and Jason forge a unique and evolving lexicon between them that is both intentionally exposed to an audience, yet intensely personal. It is a conversation about shared identity that confronts the challenge of representing it visually. Memories of their native islands and their familial histories—vastly different and eerily similar—were the ideas at the heart of the project’s conception. However, this quickly expanded to include exploration of gender and sexual identity, cultural intimacy and isolationism, exhibitionism and introversion, the value of intellectualism, and the power of ritual, choreography and ceremony.

Banquet, Nell Gross/Katrina Silander Clark/Julia Moses, 2014, video, color, live soundtrack, ? min
BANQUET is a display of strange decadence in and around Rhode Island. The film is a collaboration by members of the bands Groke and Bitters who will accompany the film with a live soundtrack.

**This program is funded in part by a grant from the Creative Arts Council at Brown University.