, a major new DVD series of artists films, documentaries and dialogues exploring how marginal art forms and intense ideas are highlighted within more popular media, release three titles, THIS IS NOT A DREAM, THIS IS PERFORMANCE ART and PARTY FOR FREEDOM on DVD on 23 January 2014.
These films examine the history of performance art as filtered through mainstream TV, the internet, stand-up comedy, avant-garde art, gallery installations, and films. The series also contains original filmed conversations with international thinkers working at the forefront of their respective disciplines (not detailed on this release). All projects are the result of the Performance Matters creative research project carried out between 2009 and 2012 and which brought together artists, activists and thinkers to consider the importance of performance in all its manifestations.
THIS IS NOT A DREAM, 119 mins (18) Directed by Gavin Butt & Ben Walters
Showcasing four decades of alternative cabaret and underground performance in both the UK and US, THIS IS NOT A DREAM is an engaging journey through the development of avant-garde experiment and radical escapism from the early 1970s of Warhols Factory to the present day, highlighting performers who have introduced film and video into their acts, incorporating talk shows, soap operas, and YouTube.
Shot in London, New York and Berlin, the documentary examines how film has opened up a new language of expression for artists and performers, who talk candidly about their inspiration. US interviewees include Dara Birnbaum , Vaginal Davis, Cole Escola, multi-media artist Nao Bustamante, Vincent Fremont who worked for Andy Warhol, Kalup Linzy, cross-dressing star of TV soap General Hospital, and TV Partys Glenn OBrien. The UKs thriving cabaret scene is explored through interviews with todays lead performers including Scottee , messmaker, memorably performing with Rhianna on X Factor, David Hoyle , Channel 4s Divine David Presents; Time Out cabaret winner Alp Haydar, female drag artist Holestar, and drag fabulist Dickie Beau. It is further illustrated by TV and film clips from across the decades.
Directed by Gavin Butt and Ben Walters, THIS IS NOT A DREAM offers an authoritative but entertaining voice to explore the vibrant, radical landscape of self-expression that continues to influence artists, musicians and actors alike. Music is composed by Plugs guitarist and vocalist Morgan Quaintance.
THIS IS PERFORMANCE ART: PARTS ONE AND TWO, 34 & 29 mins (18) Directed by Mel Brimfield
London-based gallery and fringe comedy artist Mel Brimfield has created the first two episodes of a multi-part spoof TV documentary series about the unreliable history of performance art. This weaves its way through low-end showbiz memoirs, sensationalist biographical documentaries, and cheap-to-make TV clip programmes (the 100 Top/Best/Greatest list shows), in order to address Live Arts place in popular culture.
Familiar clips from the TV archives reveal anecdotes and mythologies surrounding familiar comedy and art world performers but these figures are also written in new fictions which offer both a critique and a celebration of popular entertainment. This includes hilarious interweaving of the lives and works of TV comedians Morecambe and Wise with British artists Gilbert & George, and humorous invented stories about Scottish artist Bruce McLean and his fictional relationship with pop singer Olivia Newton John.
THIS IS PERFORMANCE ART: PART ONE - PERFORMED SCULPTURE AND DANCE features specially constructed archival material featuring actress and Edinburgh Perrier award nominee Joanna Neary (TVs That Mitchell and Webb Look and Ideal) and The Beaux Belles dance troupe. The voiceover is provided by multi-media artist, and musician with The Blue Man Group, Brian Dewan.
THIS IS PERFORMANCE ART: PART TWO EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE AND CABARET . The voiceover is performed by Sir Francis Spalding (actor Tony Green). It includes set pieces such as an imaginative presentation of American artist Richard Serras doomed action-sculpture strip routine Heavy Metal Hard Rock, performed by Sexecute, voted best male stripper by Whats On In London.
PARTY FOR FREEDOM, 67 mins (18) - Directed by Oreet Ashery
PARTY FOR FREEDOM explores ideas of liberation by drawing upon histories of experimental performance, theatre, film and popular media. Loosely based on Mayakovskys 1921 play Mystery-Bouffe, the work reflects upon both far-right and left wing political rhetoric , as well as avant-garde art, in looking at how the flaunting of whitish nakedness has carried conflicted messages of spiritual and revolutionary freedom.
PARTY FOR FREEDOM is derived from nude performances by a group of artists, led by Ashery, which originally formed a travelling live event (Party For Freedom / Party for Hire). This was devised to explore how naked bodies working and performing together can carry with them, and even change, the cultural meanings of the past. The DVD Party for Freedom | An Audiovisual Album is the resulting film based on these live performances.
The DVD features a three-screen projection of Party for Freedom with commissioned music by Finnish composer Timo-Juhani Kyllönen, queer punk band Woolf, Morgan Quaintance, and singer Chyskyyra. As well as responses to the work from artists and audiences involved in Party for Freedom | Party for Hire live performances, the DVD contains a booklet with an essay 'The Unfinished Revolution by TJ Demos.
All titles are released on DVD on 23rd January 2014 (rrp £ 12.50