CARMELITA TROPICANA: YOUR KUNST IS YOUR WAFFEN (1994) was recently screened as part of the Camp/Anti-Camp festival curated by Susanne Sachsse and Marc Siegel. It won the Teddy Award when it came out and has since been part of our collection. In 2009, we developed a close relationship with Ela Troyano and Uzi Parnes in conjunction with our project: "LIVE FILM! JACK SMITH! Five Flaming Days in a Rented World". They presented their Expanded Cinema Performances, which were later further developed as part of Forum Expanded. Both have been a formative part of the New York art and performance scene for decades and are also connected by a long history to the queer underground icon Jack Smith. Ela Troyano, who was born in Cuba, appeared in Smith's performances and films, whereas filmmaker, photographer and actor Uzi Parnes photographed for him and wrote for his theater productions. Parnes founded the perform-ance club Chandelier which he managed with Ela Troyano. From 2003 to 2005, he also ran the Uzi N.Y. Gallery in the East Village. We are not looking back at their life but into it and their working world. We are very pleased to be able to welcome Uzi Parnes and Ela Troyano to our "IntroSpective" at Arsenal.
Program 1 (21.6.) brings two performance artists together who have had and continue to have an important impact on US queer culture, albeit taking different approaches. In her camp monologues and drag performances, the New York underground legend Carmelita Tropicana (CARMELITA TROPICANA: YOUR KUNST IS YOUR WAFFEN, USA 1994), Ela Troyano's sister, helps herself from a pool of Latin American (sub-) cultural references, which include singer La Lupe. In LA LUPE QUEEN OF LATIN SOUL (USA 2007). Troyano depicts her sister's journey from Havana to New York and her rise to pop legend. The film also describes the many historical and cultural ties between the US and Cuba.
Program 2, "Structuralism and Sex" (21.6.), comprises works made by Uzi Parnes in the 1970s and 80s. His short Super8 films and slide-shows deal with the fates of immigrants (MISPACHAT DORON, USA 1977–78), punk media criticism (KRAZIE, USA 1979) and homophobic legislation (GIRLS CAN'T HELP IT, USA 1986).
In Program 3, "Queer Love – The HOMOVIES" (22.6.), we are showing Uzi Parnes’ autobiographical home movies and videos. The works are about Parnes’ relationship with his family and their attitude towards his queer lifestyle. A slideshow (SEX PIERS, USA 1979–83) shows pictures that he took on the piers of the Hudson River at the end of the 70s, when the run-down district on the edge of the West Village was a popular cruising spot.
The plot of Ela Troyano's feature-length LATIN BOYS GO TO HELL (USA 1997), a self-referential, melodramatic sex farce, tells the story of four queer boys whose romantic and sexual imbroglios are mirrored in the daily soap "Dos Vidas", which they all follow passionately. The protagonists meet in the clubs of downtown Manhattan, including the legendary Pyramid Club where Troyano made a series of short films in the 1980s (Program 4, 22.6.).
The last program (23.6.) features joint works by Parnes and Troyano, including a video version of JACK SMITH IN THE SILENCE OF MARCEL DUCHAMP that was performed as part of the 2010 Berlinale.
In an installation in the Red Foyer, Troyano and Parnes present a selection of performances from their club Chandelier. Jürgen Brüning, Daniel Hendrickson, Stefanie Schulte Strathaus and Uli Ziemons will chair the post-screening debates with guests.