Colin Self – Guest Curation, October 2016

colin_selfColin Self composes and choreographs music, performance, and environments for expanding consciousness, troubling binaries and boundaries of perception and communication.  Self works with communities across disciplines and practices, using voices, bodies, and computers as tools to interface with biological and technological software.

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Tantalizing Taste of Twat LaRouge

I wanted to start on a high note, with a video I feel will get lost in the ether of weird internet if it is not shared! This video was originally introduced to me by an incredible artist who also happens to be my lesbian witch mom, Bridget O'Briensmith. Twat LaRouge is a drag performer and puppeteer based in Kansas City, Missouri who has developed an incredible combination of these mediums that is far outside of representing gender or fishiness or any mainstream aesthetic. There is something so beautiful about these puppets / characters performing in public spaces in an almost post-species costume. I especially love the radical feminist "Armpit Hair" song by Alix Olson LaRouge uses at the end of the video. This is the kind of great refusal I love to see in drag, when there is so much effort and intention in something SO obscene; turning yourself into a giant puppet to lip-sync about armpit hair in public!? If that isn't radical, I don't know what is. Twat LaRogue is an incredible craftswoman too. I highly recommend googling her.

Swinging Songs for Larvae

One of my favorite bands of all time, Renaldo & The Loaf (check out their song Hambu Hodo) made this incredible music video / film for their release, "Swinging Songs for Larvae". One bandmate is an architect and the other is a pathologist. Together they made some of the most gruelingly nasty and perversely poppy compositions and really carved out territory that would probably be too strange or disturbing for television broadcast. The video is made with minimal budget but is beautifully shot, staged, and produced into these surreal familiar spaces. The narrative itself tells something about alimony and child custody from the child's highly imaginative and hallucinatory point of view, subjected to these sort of monstrous and damaging conditions of a divorce.

Igor Kovalyov – Hen His Wife

Tangentially related to the sort of murky feeling in the Renaldo & The Loaf video, "Его жена курица" ("Hen His Wife") is one of my all-time favorite animations, by Russian Animator Igor Kovalyov. I'm a huge fan of Russian / Soviet-era animation for its narrative tonality and distance, which sharply contrast with the American / Western animation being created at the time. The emotional and psychological space being portrayed is highly particular to the social and political climate of the USSR. Kovalyov's animation style is disgustingly descriptive and tells a peculiar narrative about a man who is married to a hen. There are a series of strange events in which the species of his wife is only realized once a respectable working-class businessman enters his home. There is a weird slug-dog pet and the scoring infers to foley and minimal use of music. Arguably nightmare material.

Klein – Marks of Worship

It is too rare today that I see a music video that sticks with me so much I want to watch over and over again. This one, directed by London-based artist Akinola Davies Jr. is a music video for the interlude on the new record "Lagata” by Klein, experimental producer and vocalist. Like Davies, Klein grew up in a Nigerian household, and the video is intended as a sort of ceremonial, self-cleansing peaceful meditation. The images are beautifully arranged in connection with the intense "mark of hatred" speech looming throughout. I love the way this video feels at once honest and truthful and contemporary and not hinged to its own marketability or coolness. If Kanye or someone like him tried to do something like this, it would be drenched into a value system of marketability and coolness, but this is in no way trying to sell you anything. It is Beyonce let go from the grasp of capitalism, falling free into her own baptism.

Divine David's Favorite Place

For the general public, “RuPaul's Drag Race” dominates the present day conception as to what drag is, does, and should be. Few people know that around the same time RuPaul was pioneering mainstream success as a visionary drag queen, actor, and entrepreneur, David Hoyle was carving out an antithetical presence on BBC as "The Divine David". A self-proclaimed "drag terrorist", Hoyle was messily painting his face and leading a "masterclass" series on the BBC and Radio 4. His improvisation skills are immaculate and draw out a kind of rude cleverness that, to me, is what makes underground drag so much more interesting than the "high-class cunt beauty" performances popularized by “Drag Race.” It's impressive that such an anomaly made it onto the BBC, but it's also kind of a drag that few people know about the Hoyle’s work. This is the kind of historical presence that often gets written out of the grand narrative of Queer History. There is little to no accountability for the recursive waves of erasure that leave out the freaks and queerdos from history. For someone like David Hoyle, who refuses to contend with beauty drag, his craftsmanship, improvisation, and comedy distinguish real resistance from the value system of commodified drag. I am always fighting for plurality and presence within the forgotten narratives of queer culture. So here I am, spreading the word!