Stephen Varble: A Lecture by David Getsy

2018 | 01:51:53 | United States | English | Color | Stereo | 16:9 | Video

Collection: New Releases, On Art and Artists, Single Titles

Tags: AIDS/HIV, Art Collective, Artist Portraits, Body, Camp, Feature Length, Gender, LGBTQ, Magic, Mixed media, Outsider Art, Performance, Portrait

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Stephen Varble (1946-1984) staged gender-confounding costume performances on the streets of 1970s Manhattan, and became infamous for his anti-commercial disruptions of galleries, banks, and boutiques. In 1978, he retreated from this public work to focus on the making of an epic, unfinished piece of video art, Journey to the Sun, until his death in the first days of 1984. Lush, ribald, and unorthodox, the video mixed non-narrative costume performances with a surrealist fable of a messianic martyr, the Warbler. Far ahead of its time, the complex video draws on the legacies of Jack Smith, of whom Varble was an acolyte, and centers on Varble’s identification with the equally reclusive actress Greta Garbo. Performing with a group of collaborators, Varble’s narrative draws on autobiographical analogies, and absorbs Varble’s previous performance characters and costumes made from found objects and street trash into a self-created environment filled with drawings and props.

David Getsy, curator of the retrospective exhibition Rubbish and Dreams: The Genderqueer Performance Art of Stephen Varble at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York (29th September, 2018 — 27th January, 2019) introduces Varble’s work by selecting excerpts from the over four hours of unfinished video in order to discuss the staging of gender transformation and queer lineages in this never-before-screened video. Getsy provides context to Varble's work through introductions and a question-and-answer session.

This video is documentation of the screening and presentation on October 11th, 2018 at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of the ongoing series Conversations at the Edge, presented by the Department of Film, Video, New Media and Animation and the Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This title is also available on Stephen Varble: Videoworks


Gene Siskel Film Center
Chicago, IL