quarta-feira, março 12, 2014

the 'Ruined Paradise' of Leo Herrera | Statement #gayhistory

“IN ORDER TO COMPREHEND WHAT DEATH, RELIGION AND SUBVERSIVE IMAGES HAVE TO DO WITH THE BLACK PARTY ONE MUST UNDERSTAND THE EVENT’S ROOTS AND ITS CONTEXT IN GAY HISTORY….THIS FILM IS PART OF THAT VISUAL TRADITION, AND ITS INTENTION WAS NOT CULTURAL APPROPRIATION BUT METAPHOR” – LEO HERRERA




>>>The 2014 Black Party film trailer A Ruined Paradise was created using documentary footage of Indian funeral rites and the Holi Festival of Colors. There are no gyrating male torsos or sex scenes; the only nudity is the preparation of the body of a man who died while meditating. These disturbing and powerful clips were purposefully left raw and unadorned, meant to invoke a mood to the event without the clichés of a circuit party promo. There have been questions and concerns about what they have to do with The Black Party and whether this is cultural appropriation. In order to comprehend what death, religion and subversive images have to do with The Black Party one must understand the event’s roots and its context in Gay history. The Black Party is the oldest event of its kind, it survived the AIDS epidemic, outliving most of its original attendees and has thrived through three decades of economic and political changes in Manhattan. Before AIDS had a name, it was christened, “Saint’s Disease” after the gay nightclub The Saint, the first home of The Black Party. The first Black Party poster, shot by Robert Mapplethorpe, featured a man in devil horns. Decades later, the snake from the Garden of Eden would be shown inside a man’s ass. Dark images of religion and sex, as well as mutilation, political unrest and medical nightmares have been part of the Black Party since its inception and have functioned as a reflection of the times. This film is part of that visual tradition, and its intention was not cultural appropriation but metaphor. The Ruined Paradise is not India. It is Roseland. It is Manhattan. Manhattan, our Ganges River, sacred, polluted, steeped in constant loss and change. For thirty five years, it has been the home of this tribal gathering. For twenty-four years only the palatial Roseland had the resources to host this event. As Roseland shuts down this year, it will close a chapter in the history of Black Party and the city itself, making the themes of death and resurrection more pertinent than ever. As Gay men, we have been denied a culture of our own for a very long time. Our community has been comprised of members with religions and cultures which did not accept us. We have historically depended on using the reflection of other cultures to tell our own stories. What does it mean, with our new visibility and political power, that we now have the luxury of a heated debate about cultural appropriation? Who in the Gay community has the right to reference other cultures in the context of a gay dance event? This film was meant to raise these questions and judging by community reaction, it has. Whether one agrees on how this film presented the themes of loss and celebration is a personal opinion, but what is undeniable is that as we face a fundamental change in the way we celebrate this event, these themes require a deep reflection. ” –
Leo Herrera, March 2014

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