This Dancerie is a multi-site, multi-platform, multi-media exploration of a city, Paris, considered as a venue where the queer century develops: the “queer identity” lived freely in the society of that era.
The following cycle of works will constitute This Dancerie :
"In a short film, Paris, 1938, installation during Paris’s annual dusk to dawn arts citywide annual arts festival on Ile de La Cité and live music performances I will propose versions of a same sex relationship that resulted in an assignation that foreshadows current acts of self-radicalized terror and ignited a new era of Nazi persecution of Jews launched by Kristallnacht. Paris, 1938 will be an Off Event of Nuit Blanche 2017 (Oct. 7/8, 2017,) Paris’s all-night annual citywide arts festival." TW
NEW LOVE: 1910: WORLD OUT OF KILTER
"I will collaborate with composers, musicians, live performers, and videographers/editors to create augmented versions of 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 reality of the Great Flood of 1910, that submerged Paris for several weeks, this work will be the context for a reverie on love, desire and queerness. First performances of this evening length work will take place in LaMaMa Moves festival at LaMaMa ETC in New York City on May 10-13, 2018." TW
RETURN TO MAGIC CITY: 1922-39
"I will collaborate with representative social dancers from current ethnically defined, cross generational and diversely gender-manifesting communities to resurrect the celebration of same sex desire found in the Paris landmark amusement park, Magic City’s Bal des Invertis, an annual legal drag ball that drew international attendees. This work will be co-directed with New York based performance artist/choreographer, Yoshiko Chuma (currently scheduled for the fall of 1919 in Paris- venue and sponsor TBD)" TW
GHOSTS OF PLACE BLANCHE: 1965-75
This work will be a public art installation about transgender people who forged their identities in the sex-trade of Place Blanche and were memorialized in the work of Christer Strömholm. In this project I will produce a series of portraits and interviews exploring translives and aspirations today that will be installed through out the neighborhood of Place Blanche. For these portraits, I will ask this generation of transgender people to recreate the physicality of the 60’s while discussing trans-life today (Currently scheduled for June to November 2019. Sponsor TBD)" . TW
LOVE’S FRONTIER: 1918
Love’s Frontier: 19/2018 will be the third work in This Dancerie, a cycle of ten works by Tony Whitfield exploring a century of queer life in Paris.
The background for Love’s Frontier: 19/2018 is grounded in the fact that same sex relationships were decriminalized in France in 1791, creating a reality among the French of several generations who had the ability to experience same sex intimacy as a part of their culture differently than the rest of Europe. For Whitfield, this fact has triggered an exploration of how intimacy in contexts of sudden death, profound trauma, and mental and/or physical impairments brought to life during World War I might parallel the experience of current generations of combatants who are entering global theaters of war free, for the first time, to openly express and forge queer relationships with fellow soldiers.
Love’s Frontier: 19/2018 is scheduled for presentation as an exhibition at HOWL! Arts in November 2018, coinciding with the 100th anniversay of the end of World War 1.
SCREENS/BURNING FLOWERS: 1974 [WORKING TITLE]
"This work explores the arrival of late 20th century terror and its reverberations now in the person/acts of Carlos the Jackal his bombing of Le Drugstore, in the heart of queer international glamour at the Intersection of Blvd. St Germain and Rue de Rennes in September of 1974. Using fragments from Jean Genet’s play, The Screens I will collaborate with New York based theater director to create a multi-site performance. Production is currently scheduled for summer 2020" TW
"I see this as an ongoing workshop context for participants in the production of This Dancerie works with a diverse group of artists, community members and activists to create an environment that explores confronting and adjusting to French culture and the daily dissonant realities of exile, assimilation and difference for queer immigrants in Paris and their allies. It is my hope that various workshops that have public components will result in active contexts for person growth, engagement and therapy in addressing trauma and issues of self-esteem. To date this aspect of This Dancerie has consisted primarily of discussion of Paris’ LGBT Community Center on experiences of dislocation and alienation from their homeland and the French culture where they are, often, seeking asylum." TW
OVER DEEP WATERS: LATE 1980S
"In this work I will create an installation that becomes the context for mediations on love, need, desperation, exile, endings, new relationships, pain, lost capacity, caring and hope. Building narratives that incorporate the recollections of caregivers and long term AIDS survivors about the period in the 80’s when terminally ill people came to Paris for last resort experimental treatment and, I will explore the role Paris played in the epidemic. This installation is scheduled to take place in the summer of 1919. Venue and sponsor TBD" TW
THE GARDEN UNDER BLUER SKIES (1996-7) (working title)
This project is about the arrival of the 3-Drug cocktail that transformed AIDS treatment into that of a chronic, manageable condition, an experience often referred to as The Lazarus Effect. As a metaphor for survival, hopeful care and the cultivation of a well-being, I want to establish a large garden planted with vegetation, cultivated and wild, that have 1. been used and/or explored for use in the treatment of AIDS and HIV related health issues; 2. Have properties that promote romance, affection and human attachments; and 3 are believed to enable elevated mental states. Throughout the garden will be plaques that tell two stories: 1. The history and uses of a particular plant and the condition it might address as well as any history of experimental use and 2. the stories of lives that have been constructed post- the use of treatments enabled by the 3-Drug therapy.
The goal is to `design and produce replicable modular above ground structure that can be sited in communities where there is at least one organization that supports the needs of people with AIDS. In addition, an educational organization will be sought that would integrate education about and maintenance of the garden into its curriculum.
This garden would be realized in the summer of 2020. It is my hope to create a version in Paris and version in New York, commemorating the sister city relationship between those cities in the fight development of HIV/AIDS treatment. It is anticipated that these gardens will reflect differences in contents that reflect the history of their regions.
BLACK, BLUE BLACK, BLUE: 1950-1970
"I envision this project as a meditation on romanticized queer blackness in mid-century Paris, ranging from American ex-patriot experiences to North-Africans in exile and at war, referencing the presence of the Beat generation as well as intellectuals including James Baldwin, Jean Genet, Susan Sontag, Allen Ginsburg and Simone de Beauvoir. The point of departure for this project is a fictional letter exchange between Baldwin, in Paris and Lorraine Hansberry, in the US. This work will be co-directed with French theater artist, Oisin Stack.(This work is scheduled for the fall of 2020. Venue and sponsor TBD.)" TW
THIS DANCERIE (REPRISE)
"In the culmination of This Dancerie, all works in the cycle will become part of websites and apps that will allow viewers to unpack the historical, biographical and artistic dimension of the work they are viewing in contexts that are mapped and layered. All of the works that constitute the multi-year roll-out of This Dancerie will culminate in a month long installation at a Paris based cultural institution as well as series of short broadcast quality works." TW
This Dancerie will also utilize radio and various forms of social media for dissemination to targeted audiences. In addition those works will be integrated into an evening long work including live performance. Please note, whenever possible, opportunities to present these in both Paris and New York will be pursued and it all cases, the goal is the creation of international and culturally diverse creative teams.