Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Re-viewing Ourselves: 15 Years of Gay and Lesbian Imagery



I didn't like some of the films and videos on this program, part of the Gerber/Hart Library's gay and lesbian film series, but there are a number of strong ones, and the show as a whole is impressively diverse. We see teenage lesbians, elderly lesbians, African-American lesbians, a gay/hetero triangle, and anonymous male sex--almost every piece in a different style. Two that feature performance artists are especially powerful. In Suzie Silver's A Spy (Hester Reeve Does the Doors), Hester Reeve lip-synchs Jim Morrison's voice while done up as a bearded but bare-breasted Jesus--is this what's meant by a gender fuck? The images behind her constantly change--from shots of an appreciative audience to explosions to girls in panties, in an over-the-top send-up of, among other things, the anything-goes MTV style. National Poetry Slam champ Patricia Smith collaborated with Kurt Heintz on Chinese Cucumber, which begins with the rumor that an obscure Chinese vegetable cures AIDS. Smith's delivery of this "news," as well as a later claim that crystals are a cure, parodies the style of sensationalist reporters by sounding even more breathlessly urgent--a rare feat--and becomes an effective metaphor for the impossible contradictions surrounding AIDS. In the much quieter Jollies, Sadie Benning tapes herself in isolating close-ups, as her thoughts are conveyed through voice-overs and diarylike texts, fragmenting her description of her emerging sexuality while giving it a poignant interiority. Also on the program are works by Elspeth Kydd, Gabriel Gomez, Claire Whitaker, Doreen Bartoni, H. D. Motyl; Patrick Siemer, Larry Steger, Otis Richardson, Ron Pajak, Natalie Hutchison, Mary Morten, Tom Kalin, and Juan Carlos Valdivia. Kino-Eye Cinema at Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, Saturday, June 15, 8:00, 384-5533 or 883-3003. --Fred Camper

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