Part of We Remember Stories, Not Facts: Wu Tsang in Residence

Exuberant and witty, Hail the New Puritan (85 min) is a simulated day-in-the-life “docufantasy” starring the British dance celebrity Michael Clark. Atlas’s fictive portrait of the charismatic choreographer serves as a vivid invocation of the studied decadence of the 1980s post-punk London subculture. Contriving a faux cinéma vérité format in which to stage his stylized fiction, Atlas seamlessly integrates Clark’s extraordinary dance performances into the docu-narrative flow. Focusing on Clark’s flamboyantly postured eroticism and the artifice of his provocative balletic performances, Atlas posits the dance as a physical manifestation of Clark’s psychology. From the surreal opening dream sequence to the final solo dance, Clark’s milieu of fashion, clubs, and music signifies for Atlas “a time capsule of a certain period and context in London that’s now gone.”

Documentary artist Matt Wolf joins Charles Atlas following the screening in a conversation that explores new possibilities of narrative expression in documentary filmmaking.

Charles Atlas is a filmmaker and video artist who has created numerous works for stage, screen, museum, and television. Atlas is a pioneer in the development of media-dance, a genre in which original performance work is created directly for the camera. Atlas worked as filmmaker in residence with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company for ten years. Many of Atlas’s works have been collaborations with choreographers, dancers, and performers, including Yvonne Rainer, Michael Clark, Douglas Dunn, Marina Abramovic, Diamanda Galas, John Kelly, and Leigh Bowery. Television Dance Atlas—the artist’s critically acclaimed prime-time event on Dutch television—was a four-hour montage of original and found footage incorporating dance styles as varied as ballet, burlesque, and figure skating. Atlas also creates video installation works. “The Hanged One”—a work inspired by symbolism from the Tarot and foot-fetish culture—incorporated numerous video elements as well as rotoscopes, motorized mannequins, and theatrical lighting. Atlas is the recipient of three Bessie (New York Dance and Performance) Awards. His feature-length film Merce Cunningham: A Lifetime of Dance won the Best Documentary Award at Dance Screen 2000 in Monaco. His work has been shown at international institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Musée National d’Art Moderne at the Centre Geoerges Pompidou, Paris; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Atlas acted as Consulting Director for Art21 (Seasons 2-4), creating the original Program Opens for each hour-long segment of Season 2, as well as supervising the “Stories,” “Loss & Desire,” “Memory,” “Play,” “Protest,” and “Paradox” episodes. Atlas lives and works in New York City and Paris.

Matt Wolf is a filmmaker in New York. His film Wild Combination, about the avant-garde cellist and disco producer Arthur Russell, was released to much acclaim in 2009. He is currently at work on a new film, Teenage, about the creation of youth culture and the pre-history of teenagers with the British punk author Jon Savage. He is a recent Guggenheim Fellow.

About Wu Tsang in Residence

We Remember Stories, Not Facts is a series of contextualizing and investigative programs conceived in collaboration with Wu Tsang as part of his residency at the New Museum this June. Each program is designed to illuminate and expand upon various aspects of Tsang’s new film and performance project Full Body Quotation (FBQ). FBQ samples audio clips and quotations from the unknown (and known) cannon of transgender cinema—channeling them into live performance. In the tradition of drag realness, Tsang maintains a studied and irreverent relationship to the social “realities” that produced the original films. By appropriating, re-embodying, and remixing these voices, FBQ explores self-representation and context as a performance in and of itself. Conceived as a follow-up to the performance PIG (Politically Involved Girls), which was presented last year at X-Initative in collaboration with Zackary Drucker and Marriana Marroquin, this is Tsang’s directorial debut.  The New Museum presents FBQ as a live performance in November as part of Performa 2011, with subsequent exhibitions of a resulting short film in 2012.

Wu Tsang is a performer and filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. His projects have been presented at X-Initiative (New York), Sala de Art Publico Siqueiros (Mexico City), Oberhausen (Germany), REDCAT (Los Angeles), and the 2010 California Biennial. Tsang was a 2010 Independent Filmmaker Project Documentary Fellow for his first feature WILDNESS (currently in post-production).

Sunday, June 26, 2011 | 2:00 PM

Events at the New Museum

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