Public Bodies, Private Parts – Part 1

May 18 – 19, 2012


As part of its contribution to Whitney Biennial 2012, Artists Space presents the second of three weekend symposia that address themes in response to the Biennial. Taking as its starting point instances in which Biennial artists have revisited and re-presented transgressive biographies – in particular the inclusion of the work of Forrest Bess overseen by Robert Gober, and the research into the notebooks of Tatsumi Hijikata within Richard Hawkin’s work – this weekend of talks and screenings is the first of two events that will consider the overlap between artistic production, the representation of desire, and notions of perversion.

All talks
$5 Entrance Donation
Members Free
Limited capacity, entrance on a first come, first served basis  

Race d'Ep! – A film by Guy Hocquenghem and Lionel Soukaz
With a conversation between Lionel Soukaz and Bruce Benderson
Friday, May 18, 7pm

Artists Space, in partnership with the queer film series Dirty Looks, presents a new translation overseen by Bruce Benderson of the 1979 experimental documentary Race d’Ep!(previously screened in New York in the early 1980s as The Homosexual Century). Made by the “father of queer theory” Guy Hocquenghem, in collaboration with radical filmmaker Lionel Soukaz, Race d’Ep! traces the confluence between the development of photography in the 19th Century, and subsequent representations of homosexual desire. The film was originally accompanied by the publication Race d’Ep!: Un Siecle D’Images de l’Homosexualite by Hocquenghem, and moves from the nudes of Baron von Gloeden and early sexology, to gay sexual liberation and cruising on the streets of Paris in the 1970s. Influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault on the history of sexuality, and reflecting the revolutionary queer activism of the Parisian movement Front Homosexuel D’Action Révolutionnaire, Race d’Ep! explicitly charts the visibility and representation of gay culture.

The screening will be introduced by a conversation between filmmaker Lionel Soukaz, and author and essayist Bruce Benderson.

Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits
Bruce Baird on Tatsumi Hijikata and Butoh
With a screening of Donald Richie’s Sacrifice/Gisei (1959)
Saturday, May 19, 3pm

What has become of our bodies?

– Tatsumi Hijikata  

Richard Hawkins' series of collages exhibited in Whitney Biennial 2012 stem from research into the notebooks of Tatsumi Hijikata (1928-1986), the founder of Ankoku-Butoh, a post-war Japanese dance form. While butoh is widely considered an expression of trauma, its stylized movements twisting and distorting the body, Hawkins brings to light Hijikata’s own emphasis on erotic transgression and perversity – his notebooks pairing images of Western art with graphically sexual notations that reveal Hijikata’s interest in the writings of Jean Genet and Antonin Artaud.

Bruce Baird is a lecturer in Japanese culture at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the author of Dancing in a Pool of Gray Grits, a comprehensive study of Tatsumi Hijikata and butoh. His presentation addresses the influence and ideas of Hijikata in the formation of butoh, while equally considering the early role the transgressive and sexually explicit played in the movement, as conceived and documented within Hijikata’s “butoh-fu” notebooks.

This talk will be accompanied by a rare screening of Sacrifice/Gisei, a short film produced by Hijikata and the preeminent scholar on Japanese cinema Donald Richie in 1959, which documents an early butoh performance.