As December looms, practically every performance venue is doing some sort of holiday show. It's a relief to go to a theater where you have absolutely no risk of being inundated with holiday spirit. So, for those of us who can do without all that, there's Pleasure Rebel, a quarterly, queer series focused on dance, performance art, and video at the Bryant-Lake Bowl. Curator Nastalie Bogira promises that the lineup will be darker than its first show last summer.
We took some time to talk to Bogira over email about what Pleasure Rebel is all about, and what audiences can expect at tonight's show. Here's what she had to say.
How did you come up with the idea for Pleasure Rebel?
I've wanted to curate for a long time, but never have. I see work that I love, or that I find interesting in some way, and I think about what other work I'd love to see up against it to add depth to the conversation.
I was talking with Becky Smith, a friend of mine, about the idea of a Twin Cities queer cultural space like the Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco. We talked about the need to build an audience to make something like that possible, and the idea of starting with something smaller -- like a performance series -- was born.
I tend to work collaboratively, but I'm bottom lining this project alone. It's been important for me to figure out how I make decisions when it's just me. In some ways it's nice to not have to compromise, but there's also more pressure. I'm learning to trust my instincts.
What is unique about Pleasure Rebel?
Photo courtesy Bryant-Lake Bowl
As a performer in both dance and queer performance scenes, there are often quite a lot of opportunities to present five to ten minutes of work, but it can be a hard leap to begin presenting full-length solo shows. Not only is there a different arc to longer work, but it's a lot of responsibility to self-produce.
I'm offering artists a chance to make work that is longer and more developed than what can typically fit in most cabaret or festival formats, without having to be responsible for the production end of the show.
What I'm attempting to offer audiences is the chance to get to know artists' work on a deeper level. Personally, I don't go to a performance to be entertained, but in evenings with 10 different pieces, that's a lot of what I get. When an artist only has five minutes, it's tempting to be big and over-the-top and to really pack everything into that time in order to stand out. There's no room for the work to breathe. With Pleasure Rebel, I'm hoping that the artists can go beyond an attempt to please or be noticed, and can experiment and take risks. I'd really like to build an audience for queer and experimental work that can stay engaged without the fireworks.
Nastalie Bogira with The Wreck Family
How were the artists presenting chosen?
I personally reached out to artists who I wanted see more of, and whose work seemed like it would be interesting in a different container than how I've often seen it.
What is different about what these artists are doing?
I am especially interested in presenting artists who are 'queering' the art form that they work in: They are engaged with the medium, and are exploring how to push the edges of it, rather than using it as a template. I'm looking for artists who are asking questions about the limits and assumptions of working within various forms.
What kinds of things can audiences expect to see?
Vena Ambrose, Tim Carroll, and Natasha Hassett at first Pleasure Rebel
Nicole Smith is performing a piece that is extremely personal and vulnerable. The work is a blend of spoken-word pieces and storytelling about her relationship to art making.
Vena Ambrose, Tim Carroll, and Natasha Hassett have collaborated to expand a piece that they originally performed this summer which contains church mass-like text and huge, shadowed creatures. They've added beautiful layers of Super 8 film and noise music to the work.
Melissa Birch is so smart. She's a performer-seducer. I watch her and sometimes think, 'Hmm, I'm not so sure about this,' and then find myself drawn into a trance, believing her. I'm especially glad she's a part of this show, because she has history at BLB. (She ran Red Curtain Cabaret there from 2002-2004.)