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New Love : 1910 : Life Out of Kilter

New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter will be a performance event of roughly 70 minutes, currently scheduled for presentation at LaMaMa ETC, New York's landmark avant garde theater venue on May 10 - 13, as a featured work in LaMaMa Moves, an annual festival of post-modern movement based performances.

Your contribution will support fees, travel, lodging and related expenses of composers, musicians, performers, and other creative, technical and administrative personnel.

New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter begins with Adrien Barrere’s 1910 film, Tom Pouce Suit Une Femme, a work about unlikely romance and the persistence, courage and discomfort of pursuing one’s desires. Contextualized by the destabilizing realities of the Great Flood of 1910 that submerged Paris into icy waters for several weeks and the emotional trauma of this historical moment, New Love is a meditation on love, desire, and queerness. 

“In the US, in the current context in which male sexuality and its expressions are under the microscope and the way in which one expresses one’s desire, particularly desire that the mainstream invalidates, it seems important to me that we not lose sight of the nature and realization of one’s deep and persistent desires for another, the extent to which expressing that desire is not only an exercise of power, but a critical, human moment that is sometimes painful, sometimes marvelous, sometimes brave, sometimes welcomed, sometimes repulsed, sometimes embraced, sometimes triumphant, sometimes devastating and transformative. New Love… explores this territory from the point of view of people whose relationship to “their sex” is essential and contested. Looking at these issues through the “lens” of Paris, for me requires a kind of circumspection that, I hope, will be informed by a range of cultural perspectives, that, for me, as an “etranger” is often in high relief” TW.

In 1910, pioneering Pathé Frères motion picture studio was in the process of reconstructing itself after Paris’s Great Flood that had submerged much of the city, in the dead of winter and destroyed a large percentage of its inventory and film stock. Among the first projects the studio released was Tom Pouce Suit Une Femme, a short film by director Adrien Barrère, who was best known for his work as an illustrator. Its subject was a comedic tale of romance between characters we would now describe as a transgender woman and a young cisgender little male who encounter one another on the sidewalk in front of her apartment building. The young man follows her into the building and, unseen, enters her apartment. A romantic flirtation takes place and is precipitously brought to an end when the transwoman picks up her suitor and drops him from the window to the sidewalk. The short film was critiqued at that time in the review, Motography as a work that "embodies in quintessential form the kind of vulgarity and horseplay that has been the basis of so many motion picture attacks."

As the second work presented of This Dancerie, Tony Whitfield’s ten part cycle of projects exploring queer life in Paris over the last century, New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter offers points of departure for explorations of themes and issues that will span the coming century and is the point of departure for New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter’s exploration of the resilience of desire and the queer human spirit as it surfaces through non-conformity.

Central to this investigation will be Tony Whitfield in the role of on-stage interrogator/ ruminator/narrator/reflector. In this work, Whitfield will augment the film’s narrative with his own writing and excerpts from his interviews with queer friends, other texts and films ranging from Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris to Ferlinghetti poetry and testimonials from a variety of queer people on the recognition of their difference from others, the first time they acted to realize their “different” desires and the dangers inherent is the pursuit of those desires.

“The complexity of New Love: 1910… lies in spaces we create between the buoyancy of Adrien Barrère’s film and the dark rationalizations in Maria Schneider’s final monologue from Last Tango in Paris…where struggles for self definition and self-possession bang up against internalized conventions” TW.

Selected Notes on New Love

These video pieces will be integrated into the performance of New Love : 1910 : World Out of Kilter

A project of Whitfield CoLabs, New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter is a new work, developed through a collaborative process with a diverse group people whose relationships to the world defy binary conventions to explore, through movement and recollection those moments of recognition and the actions they inspire. That collaborative development process draws upon the input of a group of composers, musicians, live performers, and videographers/editors and a broad range of gay, lesbian, trans, queer and gender non-conforming folk from New York and Paris. To accommodate practical as well as conceptual realities of disparate venues, the project will be tailored to respond to the talents and input of the contributors in each city, assuming opportunities for fine-tuning at each performance venue. While many of Whitfield’s collaborations in New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter will be new working relationships, a core group of collaborators—among them, actor/director Oisin Stack and choreographer and performer Alexandre Bado in Paris and composers Andrew Alden and William Basinski as well as video editors, Hanisha Harjani, Peifu Chen, --have worked with Whitfield on previous projects. To bring a breadth of perspectives to the exploration inherent in this piece, the group of collaborators Whitfield has brought together are from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds with histories of working across a variety of discipline in traditional and unexpected contexts. Their experience contributes to a New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter’s combination of video, film, movement, live music and testimony in its narrative delivery.

BACKGROUND

New Love: 1910: World Out of Kilter is the second work in Tony Whitfield’s ten part cycle of works entitled This Dancerie exploring Paris as the site of a queer century lived in public in a multi-event, multi-site, multi-media project.  This Dancerie investigates the ways in which gay men have created public expressions of desire despite prohibitions against the manifestation of those aspects of their lives.

In a series of projects spanning several years, This Dancerie will seek to:

  • illuminate transitions in identity that evolve for cisgender males over the course of a century, moving from  the modern construct of the homosexual to current articulations of “queerness;”
  • look at the persistence of public expressions of identity that defy binary gender definition across the century;
  • reflect the critical social events that have had an impact on “queer” lives ranging from wars to public health crises to liberation struggles to fashion and entertainment;
  • reflect the intersections of class, race, ethnicity, economics, politics and creed as well as immigration patterns that have created evolving heterogeneity in the French populus;
  • reflect changing technologies that have supported notions of self actualization while challenging policies and practices that have defined standards of public decency.

Unifying the works in the Dancerie cycle will the personal responses of the project Artistic Director, Tony Whitfield rooted in understandings of the narrative underlying each work in the cycle to their relationships to contemporary socio-political issues. The pretext of This Dancerie is urbanization as a prerequisite for modern homosexual subculture and the understanding that despite the lack of recognized communities or “gay ghettos,” gay men have lived forbidden aspects of their lives in many cities, in public. This Dancerie focuses on Paris as a crossroad of queer life in which, although, technically, homosexuality was legal since 1791, notions of public decency were legislated and under surveillance and further complicated by the re-criminalization of same-sex relations during the Nazi occupation that remained in place until the 1980s.

This Dancerie will highlight a series of sites and events across Paris of historical importance for gay men as members of a broader social context. For each site, narratives based on actual events will be developed and represented in public works that range from image projections to performing arts-based works/events. Each narrative will seek to elaborate aspects of gay history and the intersection of that history with issues of race, class, creed, ethnicity, ability and gender. The role immigration has played will also be underscored in This Dancerie.

This Dancerie’s Artistic Director and Executive Producer is Tony Whitfield. Each work in the series that will constitute This Dancerie will be conceived, written, directed and produced by Whitfield in collaboration with teams of artists, performers and technicians based in Paris and New York. Each work in the Dancerie cycle will have a team specifically assembled to meet its artistic demands.

Over the course of the next five years, Whitfield plans to execute ten works that will constitute This Dancerie in locations across Paris where same sex desire has created a shifting landscape of encoded behavior, transgressive beauty and seduction, criminalized activity, class-complicated entanglements, immigrant survival strategies, forbidden trans/interactions. As such, they will also employ elements that will seek to engage viewers and community groups in a variety of ways that illuminate connections to the City’s gay history. In situations that range from motion activated videos to dance parties to social media directed investigations, This Dancerie will ask viewers/participants to question what it means to live a forbidden life in public.

All of the This Dancerie’s constituent parts are and have been conceived and developed with the goal of presentations in Paris and New York, as well as other cities with the desire of creating contexts for discussion that have international implications in a framework that encourages analysis and comparison. Toward that end, international creative teams are being engaged various collaborative activities that are integral to each project’s realization.

To date, support for This Dancerie has been provided by The Jerome Foundation, The New School University, and contributions of private donors through crowdfunding campaigns. Administrative support in France is provided by Association Errances and fiscal sponsorship in the US is provided by Fractured Atlas.

(see Project Description with French translation)

Paris Underwater: Background

WRITTEN BY - Aamna Mohdin
March 08, 2016

Paris wants to be ready for the worst-case scenario: a catastrophic flood that could reach the scale of the “Great Flood of Paris.”

In 1910, the Seine rose eight meters (26 feet) above its usual level as a result of unusually high levels of rainfall. The river flooded Paris for over a week; inhabitants were forced to evacuate their homes and travelled around the city with makeshift footbridges. Now, officials are undergoing a two-week exercise to prepare for a similar devastating flood. “This is the first time an exercise of this scale has been carried out over a region the size of Ile-de-France,” Jean-Paul Kihl, secretary-general of the Paris security and defense zone, told The Local.

Kihl insists that this isn’t a waste of time; a major flood will definitely happen. “It might be in five, 10, or even 20 years time, but it will happen,” he said. The exercise—called Sequena 2016—suggests there’s a one-in-hundred chance that Paris could be struck with another disastrous flood in any given year. The flood could surround Paris’ famous landmarks, such as The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, in water and cause €30 billion ($33 billion) in material damages (link in French). The Urban Planning Institute (IAU) released a series of videos to show what a devastating flight would look like.

The exercise will replicate the conditions of a real flood, where the river levels would rise gradually every day until it reaches eight meters—the same level as the 1910 flood. Metro stations will be walled up, radio stations will sound the alarm, and important artwork will be moved to a safe place as part of the simulation. Eight-seven public and private institutions will take part in the exercise, which includes police officers, ambulance workers, and firemen.


A flood of that scale would affect around 830,000 people and 100,000 businesses, representing 750,000 jobs. The IAU has even released an interactive map of the city to highlight the areas most in danger of flooding.