Pleasure Rebel's Nastalie Bogira: "I think queerness is something that happens at a deeper level."

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Pleasure Rebel, the experimental dance, performance, and video series at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, is back tonight with a new lineup of artists who are working to push experimental forms. City Pages took a moment to chat with the series' curator, Nastalie Bogira, about tonight's performance, about queerness, experimental performance, and the Twin Cities scene.

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Andy Looze
How do you define queer art forms, and how does that intersect and/or conflict with queerness and with LGBT identities?

Nastalie Bogira: Queerness is about challenging the status quo and questioning what we find desirable. This is why experimental art is so important to me; it is queer to the core. Experimentation and queerness are both about turning things upside down, looking at them differently, and examining concepts about what we find appealing, beautiful, boring, despicable, or revolting.

How did you choose this installment's artists? Do you generally reach out to people, or do artists send you proposals?

I generally invite artists to make work for the series, although I am occasionally approached by people. In fact, Andy Looze proposed an idea for Pleasure Rebel last fall. I had loved Andy's writing and acting in 20% Theatre's The Naked I: Wide Open last year. Andy has a knack for comedy, but can also cut into some pretty deep emotional territory.

I have worked with Hiponymous on a few previous shows. Renee Copeland and Evy Muench, the creators of Hiponymous, were in last summer's Queertopia, which I co-curated with Jeffry Lusiak for Pride. They also performed work in an evening I curated for Bedlam Theatre last fall called Making Amends.

Hiponymous has an infectious energy along with wit, playfulness, and gorgeous physicality. It has been exciting to watch their work evolve over the past year. I had seen them make shorter work for these bigger group shows, and felt it was time to see them make a more developed piece.

I have also been interested in adding experimental video to the Pleasure Rebel mix for a while. I saw Daniel Luedtke's Threshold, and felt its non-linearity, mystery, and visual beauty was a great fit for the series, so I asked if I could screen the work. 
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Hiponymous

You changed the title from Pleasure Rebel: New Queer Performance to Pleasure Rebel: New Performance, although you still use the word queer in the BLB description. Can you talk about that change in language? Is it just a marketing thing, or more of a deliberate programming shift?

I did change the name a bit. Pleasure Rebel is still a queer- and feminist-focused series in many ways -- in the identities of many performers and audience members, and in the aesthetics and politics embedded in the work.

However, I wanted to open the series up a bit more. We have performers and audience members who don't identify as queer. That isn't important to me so much as the way that we come together and experience art. I think queerness is something that happens at a deeper level. I want everything to be queer so that there's no need to explicitly label this project that way. It's there.

One of your artists, Daniel Luedtke, is one of the founding members of Madame, the queer community center in south Minneapolis. How has having a permanent space supporting queer artists affected the scene in the Twin Cities?
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Daniel Luedtke

There are a number of local companies and venues that support queer artists. Madame has been an amazing place for exploration and creativity. 20% Theatre and Bedlam Theatre also provide opportunities for members of the community to perform, perhaps for the first time, or for the first time in a while.

This openness is important because it feeds our creative community with new people, perspectives, bodies, and ideas. It breaks down the wall between artist and audience. This lays groundwork for deeper creative conversations and more engaged audiences. I also think this opens people up to experiencing experimental work. I throw that term around a lot. Experimenting is play. Experimental work is pushing beyond what we've seen before or what we know we can succeed at. 

This last year, Minnesotans engaged in the great debate about same-sex marriage. After first defeating the amendment, advocates were mobilized to push legislature passing same-sex marriage into law. How does that change in law impact the queer-arts community?

I'm not sure. My hope is that the momentum of this struggle can now be channeled into fights for environmental justice, better healthcare, education, and housing for everyone. I think there has been some fear -- an understandable scarcity mentality -- that while so many resources have been directed toward this issue, they won't come back around to serve other crucial needs. I am hopeful that people who were mobilized to fight for marriage equality will hear the calls for help from other movements and will show up as allies. I think the celebration of the victory and the call to keep fighting will show up in creative work.

IF YOU GO:

Pleasure Rebel
8 p.m. Wednesday, May 29
Bryant-Lake Bowl
$10-15

Location Info

Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN

Category: Film


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