Friday, October 3, 2008

Radical Drag: Transformative Performance

Last night I went to an opening at Galerie SAW Gallery.  Here in Canada things are often a mish-mash of French and English, which looks somewhat bizarre when written.  The gallery is really called SAW Gallery in English, but Galerie SAW in French.

Several of the conservators at the NGC are involved with the gallery, as members of its board of trustee, so everyone at the NGC was invited to the opening.  At first I was like, "I'm tired and kind of cold, and I have to work on this monthly report for school, so I won't go," but then, while I was working on the report I started thinking, "You should really go.  You'll be mad at yourself if you don't go.  You should go out while it's not a zillion degrees below zero."  So I went.

As you may have surmised, the entire title of the show is Radical Drag: Transformative Performance.  Drag as in the drag part of drag queen.

It was pretty crazy.  Tons of people were there and a whole bunch of local Canadians in drag, or locals rocking clothes and hairstyles that were really very androgynous.  

As part of the opening, several performance artists were showcased.  The first was very typically drag, but the others performed in radical drag where they use drag to make social commentary.  I stayed for two of the four artists; happily I missed the artist who pins (yes, with real pins) a long blonde wig to his head and then proceeds to forcefully brush the hair.

I only took two photos: they're pretty crappy.  This artist is China Doll, a local drag queen who is somehow involved in running a karaoke bar.  She's dressed in an inflatable sumo-wrestling suit, giving the opening performance.

This is after she pulled off the sumo-suit and started simultaneously singing Etta James and chucking fortune cookies into the crowd.

My favorite work in the show: the video piece of some guy who is dressed as a chandelier standing in the middle of a slum somewhere in Asia, making mime-like gesture of sadness as the slum is torn down.  I repeat: guy dressed as a chandelier.


Michael said...

Have you ever read the David Sedaris book "Me Talk Pretty One Day"? There's a story in that book called "Twelve Moments in the Life of An Artist" where he talks about performance art. He's a hilarious writer, and your description of the gallery opening reminded me very much of his story. I tried searching the web to see if I could find it reprinted there, but alas I could not. However, it turns out that a version was broadcast on the radio show This American Life, which has online archives. If you skip ahead to around 15 minutes into this episode you can hear David Sedaris reading a version of the story.

Ynn said...

You certainly broaden my vicarious cultural experiences. I don't think this is a show your mom and I would travel to Pittsburgh to see.

mamamia4859 said...

Yes, I agree with Lynn, but it certainly is interesting to see what is out there. Continue keeping us informed!

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