Charming for the Revolution

by: Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz

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2009, 16mm/HD film installation, 11’00’’, sound, color, 16:9 | Performance: Werner Hirsch | Courtesy: the artists

“The film is charming, but it is still labor. The labor to engage in demanding what should already be ours.” Boudry / Lorenz

In the field at the city’s Eastern periphery, in the zoo, on a power pole, (drag) performer Werner Hirsch charms for the revolution – demanding, dancing, dreaming, seducing, agitating. They travel through time in “temporal drag” (Elizabeth Freeman) – through feminist struggles for “Wages for Housework!”; Jack Smith’s queer performances; the dandy of the 19th century who walked turtles on leashes; or Pasolini’s film The Hawks and the Sparrows, which criticizes capitalism. The viewers are addressed as much as the animals at the zoo  –  each in their own right captives, but both also full of potential for glamorous defiance. “Become animal, become housewife,” Werner Hirsch (with Deleuze and Guattari) seems to hail to us: “An army of housewives cannot lose!”

The collaborative works of Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz often revisit archival sources from the past. They make reference to and excavate unrepresented or illegible moments of queer-feminist subversion in history. The majority of their works incorporate performances. Their regular collaboration with performers such as Werner Hirsch aka Antonia Baehr, Vaginal Davis, Yvonne Rainer, Wu Ingrid Tsang, among others, and their technique of shooting long sequences of performances without interruptions gives the performances a certain autonomy. And yet the films do not function as re-enactments or as performance documentation. Rather, they stage, edit, remix, and repeat actions and contagious gestures, which can draw out relations between different times, thus revealing the possibilities of a queer futurity.

Director of Photography: Bernadette Paassen
Sound: Karin Michalski
Set photography: Andrea Thal
Color grading: Mathias Behrens (Waveline)
Sound design: Rashad Becker

Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz have been working together in Berlin since 2007. They produce installations that choreograph the tension between visibility and opacity. Their films capture performances in front of the camera, often starting with a song, a picture, a film, or a score from the near past. They upset normative historical narratives and conventions of spectatorship, as figures and actions across time are staged, layered and re-imagined. Recent solo exhibitions have included Telepathic Improvisation at the Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris (2018), and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas (2017); Portrait of an Eye at Kunsthalle Zürich (2015); and  Loving, Repeating at Kunsthalle, Vienna (2015). Their work has been written about extensively and they have published numerous catalogs, most recently Telepathic Improvisation (ed. Boudry / Lorenz, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2018), I want (ed. Boudry / Lorenz, Sternberg Press, 2015) and Aftershow (ed. Boudry / Lorenz, Sternberg Press, 2014).