Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Art. Show all posts

January 19, 2019

Gay Artists in Beautiful Paris Stage a Look Back

An image from “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, at the Théâtre de la Colline.CreditSimon Gosselin

By Laura Cappelle

PARIS — Two related scenes are currently playing out in theaters here. In “Les Idoles” (“The Idols”), at the Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, the actress Marina Foïs recounts in detail the death of the philosopher Michel Foucault, in 1984, of an AIDS-related illness. At the Espace Cardin, Foucault’s homosexuality is seen through the eyes of his first biographer, the sociologist Didier Eribon, in “Retour à Reims” (“Returning to Reims”).

In both productions, prominent French gay artists reclaim their pasts with striking honesty. “Retour à Reims,” staged by the German director Thomas Ostermeier, is based on Mr. Eribon’s 2009 memoir-cum-essay about his working-class roots, while the writer and director Christophe Honoré looks back at the artistic heroes — those “idols” — he lost to AIDS in his youth.

Mr. Honoré may be better known for films including “Love Songs,” but his theater work is in some ways more ambitious and original. His recent plays have brought real individuals back to life and imagined, with the benefit of hindsight, how they might have interacted: “Nouveau Roman,” in 2012, focused on the 20th-century French literary movement of the same name; “Les Idoles” brings together six writers and filmmakers who died between 1989 and 1994.

Extensive research clearly went into the play, but Mr. Honoré doesn’t strive for truthfulness. He isn’t preoccupied with physical likeness, for starters, and regularly casts women in male roles onstage. In “Les Idoles,” Ms. Foïs plays Hervé Guibert, whose autobiographical novel “To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life” evoked Foucault’s last days, while the part of the filmmaker Jacques Demy is taken with gusto by Marlène Saldana, in a fur coat and heels. 

Some of the characters in “Les Idoles” enjoy more public recognition than others. Mr. Demy is one of them, and the playwrights Jean-Luc Lagarce and Bernard-Marie Koltès are both revered names on the French stage. A creation about them might easily have turned into a series of reverential obituaries, but Mr. Honoré gives “Les Idoles” a welcome lightness of touch.

The men are portrayed as witty, imperfect individuals rather than austere icons to be worshiped. They are as likely to launch into a dance number as they are to debate the attributes of the ideal lover: Ms. Saldana’s rendition of “Chanson d’un jour d’été,” from Mr. Demy’s musical film “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” is an unlikely highlight.

The play still brings up unsettling questions about the ways in which the AIDS crisis affected the arts community, in France and beyond. If some of those who died had survived, would their legacy be perceived differently today? Did artists who were sick have a duty to speak up, or was staying in the closet — as Mr. Demy did — an acceptable choice? Throughout, Mr. Honoré contrasts the crusade by Elizabeth Taylor (also played by Ms. Saldana) to raise awareness of the disease and funds for research in the United States with the relative public discretion of artists in France.

The cast contributes expertly tragicomic performances in a production that acts as a lucid, intimate “adieu” to a formative era for Mr. Honoré. When the filmmaker Cyril Collard is left alone at the end, calling out the names of his dead peers only to be met with silence, the void they left behind is palpable. 

From left, Irène Jacob, Blade M.C. Alimbaye and Cédric Eeckhout in “Retour à Reims” at the Espace Cardin/Théâtre de la Ville.CreditMathilda Olmi
Mr. Eribon’s “Retour à Reims” is even more personal, but it doesn’t translate as easily to the stage. Mr. Ostermeier, who leads Berlin’s Schaubühne theater, has acknowledged there is “nothing theatrical” about the book, which intertwines autobiography and social theory. Regardless, the director has tackled it in three languages: He first adapted it in 2017 with the actress Nina Hoss, who performed it in English and in German, and has now brought a French version to Paris. 

It’s a spare, unhurried experience. Irène Jacob, replacing Ms. Hoss, plays a voice-over artist working on a documentary inspired by Mr. Eribon’s experiences. For 45 minutes or so, she merely reads from the book as the fictional documentary — which includes footage of Mr. Eribon and his aging mother — unfolds on a screen above her head. Slowly, however, disagreements about the project arise with the filmmaker who hired her, played by Cédric Eeckhout.

Mr. Ostermeier originally designed the production to allow Ms. Hoss to touch on her own father’s political career in Germany, and the French version feels like a compromise of sorts. In the lead role, Ms. Jacob objects to some of Mr. Eeckhout’s cuts in the text and to the use of footage from the recent “yellow vest” protests in France to illustrate a point about the far right, but her character otherwise lacks a strong identity.

The film is only intermittently revelatory, too, giving this “Retour à Reims” a disjointed feel. Although the production marks the first appearance of the yellow vests in French theater, they are discussed only in passing. A third character, played by Blade M. C. Alimbaye, is present throughout and performs a couple of songs, yet a key story — of his African grandfather, who fought for France in World War II — isn’t introduced until the last 10 minutes.  

The visceral force of Ms. Liddell’s confessional monologues has salvaged many of her productions. Not so here. In attempting to react to the social mood, the director and performer, who describes herself as a “recluse,” bites off more than she can chew. “I don’t like this world where women have stopped loving men,” she says early on. “No woman loves enough anymore.” This sets the scene for rants so misogynistic that they would probably land a male performer in artistic exile.

In any event, “The Scarlet Letter” proves so over the top that Ms. Liddell’s ode to the superiority of men mostly prompted awkward laughs at one recent performance at the Théâtre de la Colline. The contrast with “Saison Sèche” couldn’t be starker. In Ms. Ménard’s latest work, seven women were trapped under a white ceiling that moved up and down. Their way out was to slowly take on the appearance of men, in the style of drag kings, until the walls around them began to visibly erode and crumble.

With no text, this metaphor for the glass ceiling relied entirely on Ms. Ménard’s taut staging and precise physical direction. Her vision comes across with increasing clarity these days, just as #MeToo has brought her staunchly feminist stance closer to the mainstream. This might just be a banner year for her.

An image from “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, at the Théâtre de la Colline.CreditSimon Gosselin
The new year in Paris has also featured two female directors at odds with each other. While Phia Ménard, a Frenchwoman, channeled the feminist anger that crystallized in #MeToo in “Saison Sèche” (“Dry Season”), the polarizing Spanish director Angelica Liddell rails against the same movement in “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel.

Les Idoles
Les Idoles. Directed by Christophe Honoré. Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, through Feb. 1.
Retour à Reims. Directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Espace Cardin/Théâtre de la Ville, through Feb. 16.
Saison Sèche. Directed by Phia Ménard; was at MC93.
The Scarlet Letter. Directed by Angelica Liddell. Théâtre de la Colline, through Jan. 26.

September 13, 2017

A Chinese Farmer and His Exclusive Gay Art

{{This is a page from the BBC news blog}}
Artwork by Chinese gay farmer XiyadieImage copyrightXIYADIE
A gay Chinese farmer who found emotional release by depicting his suppressed erotic fantasies in traditional Chinese paper cuttings is part of an exhibition of gay Asian art in Taipei. The BBC's Cindy Sui traces a story that began with self-denial and frustration - and an exhibition that reflects Asia's changing attitudes towards gay art. 
Some readers may find images in this article explicit.
The first time Xiyadie's artwork was exhibited in mainland China, police raided the private gallery. They confiscated the other artists' erotic works but left his alone.
"They said my artwork was pretty good," said the 54-year-old artist, chuckling.
Had they looked closer, they would have noticedthey were some of the boldest gay artworks, revealing the troubled psyche of China's homosexual community. 
Now, more than 50 works by diverse artists from across Asia have gone on display at Taipei's Museum of Contemporary Art (Moca). It is billed as the first public exhibition of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) themed art of its kind in Asia. 
Xiyadie's work is easily masked as traditional Chinese paper cuttings of village scenes - red brick courtyard homes, flowers and birds. But look carefully and one depicts him so tormented by his desire for his male lover that he sews up his penis with a needle and thread.
Another depicts his wife holding their son inside their home while he and a man have sex outside, with facial expressions both painful and blissful.
"At that time in villages, if you came out of the closet, your family would scold you and you wouldn't be able to live there anymore," said Xiyadie.
"Even though I really wanted to be with the man I loved, I was afraid to. I thought I had a sickness… I felt very very painful, but also happy. So I did my life in paper cuttings."
The Taipei exhibition, called Spectrosynthesis - Asian LGBTQ Issues and Art Now, aims to chronicle and showcase the artistic inspiration and achievements of ethnically Chinese artists like Xiyadie.
Artwork by artist Shiy De-jinnImage copyrightSHIY DE-JINN/NATIONAL TAIWAN MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS
Image captionThe exhibition includes works by the late Taiwanese painter Shiy De-jinn, who often painted young men to express his love
The works span decades and are by artists from Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Canada who explore their desires, predicaments and their own sexuality identities.
"When it comes to gay art, Western work is commonplace, but there are far fewer Asian gay art and artists," said Patrick Sun, the founder of Sunpride Foundation, a non-profit art promoter co-sponsoring the exhibition.
"In Asia, the most difficult part for us is to find out about the older generation of artists… because people of that generation do not actually come out of the closet," said Mr Sun. "They don't want to be stigmatised."
Chief curator Sean Hu says unlike the older generation whose art is subtle, these days young Asian artists confront gay issues more directly. "They're more willing to express themselves freely," he says. 
One photograph by a young artist depicts a gay household - a naked man lies on a sofa with his two male housemates nearby. Another artist made a photo series of his nude body.
Photograph by artist Tzeng Yi-HsinImage copyrightTZENG YI-HSIN
Image captionThis photograph by Tzeng Yi-Hsin shows a rainbow version of the Taiwanese flag
Regardless of their age, many of the artists have suffered periods of isolation and turmoil.
Singaporean artist Jimmy Ong's works explore gay people's desire to have a family. One shows two men lovingly holding a little boy.
"It's like I'm saying that we're not any different from straight people, we have the same hope [to have a family] and the same grief, pain or sadness," he said. 
Artwork Image copyrightJIMMY ONG/MOCA
Image captionOng's artwork Heart Sons depicts two men holding a baby
Mr Ong's artwork has never been displayed in a public museum in Singapore, where gay sex remains illegal.
No other museum in Asia had agreed to host the exhibition, but Moca's director Yuki Pan said she was not afraid to do so, and even set up a protest area for critics.
Taiwan is considered the most accepting place in Asia for homosexuals; its highest court in May became the first in Asia to rule that same-sex marriages should be legalised.
Ms Pan says museums have a duty to reflect the gay community. "After seeing the exhibition's works, I feel sad," she said. "Their inner life is very lonely and helpless."
"I really hope everyone can see gay artists' feelings so they can be more empathetic and not just hear the pro-and-con debate."
Image copyrightWANG LIANG-YIN
Image captionWang Liang-yin's painting The Wanted Ones - The Sweet Afterlife is also on display
For Xiyadie, it's been a long journey. 
Growing up in a traditional village in northern China's Shaanxi province, he was attracted to men at a young age, and fell in love with a former male classmate he had a brief romantic encounter with in his family's apple orchard. 
But he thought there was something wrong with himself and suppressed his love.
Instead, he married a woman because he felt he had to. Torn by his love for the classmate and subsequent affairs with a second man, as well as his guilt toward his wife, he nonetheless stayed married to her because they had to take care of their invalid son. 
It was during the years caring for his dying son and living with this turmoil that he made his paper art about his life and love.
"We were all in pain. When I was with my wife, I thought of the man I loved, but did not dare to find him," Xiyaidie said. 
"My wife was also in pain. It's not easy being her; she gave her life to our marriage. … I felt sorry to her. I not only cut myself [on paper]; I also cut her."
He eventually moved to Beijing, where his art was discovered when he visited a doctor, who also happened to be gay.
"I asked him what medicine he could give me to stop me from thinking of the man I loved. The doctor said: 'You don't need to change yourself; you're so healthy. I've even come out to my mother!'" Xiyadie recalled. 
"He said 'In Beijing, there's an art exhibit for comrades [gay people], why don't you show your work?"
People in the local gay art community then saw his art and "said 'Oh my god! You are so brave. You're a real gay artist'," he recalled. 
They convinced him to post his works on a website and promised to protect his identity. Xiyadie is a pseudonym. 
His paper cuttings have since been exhibited and collected by overseas museums. China also made them into stamps last year, in a big step towards acceptance.
With the art he has sold, Xiyadie paid off the debts from his late son's medical bills. He's still married, but has come out to his wife and is dating a man.
"When I was young, I struggled with myself... I kept trying to change myself. In the end, I didn't change myself, because natural forces cannot be changed. That beauty can never be killed by me."
"I hope my art will bring everyone happiness."

June 29, 2017

Martha Stewart Outrage Trump'ies by Posting Photo On Line of Snoop Dog and The Don

I was never crazy about Martha Stewart even at the risk of having my gay card taken away from me. This is all changed when  she put Trump on her hairline and I saw the photo below:
On the side next to Snoop Dogg, Stewart made a peace sign, while on the side with Trump, Stewart gave the portrait the finger.

 The image was posted online by artist Newlin Tillotson, who later turned her Instagram account private. On Stewart's own Instagram account, she posted a less controversial version of the photo, giving peace signs to both of the portraits, according to The Hill.
Kevin Sharkey, who took the second photo, is reported to work as an executive with Stewart's company. He posted the version of the photo that he called "politically correct," saying that it was a "so much less interesting" version of another.
Stewart and Trump have had a strained relationship after a feud over Stewart's spinoff of Trump's show "The Apprentice," which ran for just one season. Stewart did congratulate Trump on his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election.
Stewart and Snoop Dogg co-star in VH1's "Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party," and have had a friendship that dates back to 2008, when the rapper appeared on Stewart's talk show, "Martha," according to Vulture. 
In the pair's VH1 show, they host celebrities in a "half-baked evening of cocktails, cooking, conversation, and fun where nothing is off-limits."
Snoop Dogg has previously come under fire in March for a controversial video featuring a parody of Trump. In the video for BADBADNOTGOOD's "Lavender," the rapper points a prop gun at a clown version of Trump, Billboard reports.
Even Trump himself weighed in on the video on Twitter.
"Can you imagine what the outcry would be if Snoop Dogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama?" the president tweeted. "Jail time!"
Other artists in the rap and hip-hop scenes came to Snoop's defense, such as Ice-T and Treach, who expressed their support for Snoop Dogg in a joint interview.
"And it was a confetti gun," said Treach. "Anybody got shot, confetti came out. It was artistic."
"I don't think it was threatening neither," he added.
"I was nervous," Ice-T said.
"He's messing with the line," he continued. "We'll see how this weighs out, but I roll with Snoop. I thought it was a good video."
Sources: MashableBillboardVultureThe Hill / Photo credit: Art 

April 4, 2017

First Gay British Art Exhibition Opens in London

London: The first major retrospective of gay British art opens this week at the Tate Britain gallery in London, featuring a portrait of Oscar Wilde next to his prison cell door.

"Queer British Art 1861-1967" marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and looks at the century leading up to the point when the death penalty for gay sex was lifted.

Billed as the "first-ever exhibition dedicated to queer British art", the retrospective contains an 1881 portrait of Wilde which is being displayed publicly in Britain for the first time.

"It shows him just on the cusp of success as a writer," said curator Clare Barlow.

It stands next to the cream-coloured wooden door of his cell at Reading Gaol, where he was imprisoned after being sentenced to two years' hard labour for homosexual offences in 1895.

"There's a real emotional punch in this pairing," Barlow said.

"When you see an object like this, it really brings it home that it actually happened, this was somebody whose life was actually wrecked."

Desires coded in ambiguity -

The visual arts exhibition is spread over eight rooms, and explores such topics as coded desires, defying conventions and the contradictions between public and private lives.

It shows how 19th-century artists were able to explore the ambiguities in artwork to express what could not otherwise be said -- such as paintings of naked men swimming -- and how post-World War II artists could break new ground.

"Between those legal landmarks, there are huge shifts in society, identity, how people see themselves and in arts and culture," Barlow said.

"With a lot of these works, the queerness or otherwise is viewable to certain audiences but not to others. You get a real mix of different responses.

"Look below the surface and there's an extraordinary wealth of stories just waiting to tumble out.

"It's a story about people liberating themselves, liberating each other, finding ways to be themselves."

The exhibition features works by Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Gluck and Cecil Beaton.

It includes the playwright Noel Coward's red silk dressing gown and images of drag artists such as Danny La Rue.

"Each of these artworks is incomplete without an understanding of the sexual lives from which these artworks emerge," said Tate Britain director Alex Farquharson.

"This exhibition is all the more important in acting as an excavation of a semi-hidden past. It's a history that absolutely speaks to our present."

The exhibition opens on Wednesday and runs until October 1.

December 27, 2016

Two Men Holding Hands at Mural NYC Subway Station

The sight of two men holding hands is far from uncommon, but a mural of two men doing just that is showing up in an unusual place — on the walls of a new subway station in New York City.

Experts say that depiction of love between gay men is a rarity in public art.

The men, Thor Stockman and Patrick Kellogg, are part of artist Vik Muniz's "Perfect Strangers," a series of life-size mosaic portraits of everyday New Yorkers gracing the walls of the new station at 72nd Street on the city's long-awaited Second Avenue subway line. It's scheduled to open Jan. 1.

Stockman says being featured is "like winning the lottery." But he says he wishes that it wasn’t such a rarity.

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