Featuring BOY + PINK FLAMINGOS With: Ssion, Divine, Twiggy
Total running time: 165 mins approx.
The main man behind visionary performance art electro act SSION, last seen in these parts supporting The Gossip, Cody Critcheloe is now making serious inroads into the art world with his first feature-length movie production entitled BOY. Essentially a story about love for the Courtney Love generation, BOY is a hypercoloured journey of self-transformation in which underground gay clubs, leather-clad punk bands, Shamanistic fireside rituals, and debased celebrity worship produce the cult pop phenomenon that is the movie’s central character, the Boy.
Following this UK premiere is a rare outing for Pink Flamingos, John Waters’ classic 1972 tale of grossed-out oneupmanship in which Divine valiantly attempts to win the title of Filthiest Person Alive. We are also pleased to announce that Birmingham Drag Legend and queen Diva TWIGGY will be our MC for the evening. Come for the fantasy, and stay for the filth…
Curated by Morgan Quaintance.
More info on WHATEVER! from weareeastside.org:
Text: Morgan Quaintance
In preparation for the upcoming Flatpack Festival premiere of Cody Critcheloe’s BOY, a hyper-coloured tale of self-transformation featuring leather-clad punk bands, shamanistic fireside rituals and debased celebrity worship, I caught up with myself to find out what made Critcheloe’s work so different, so appealing.
So Morgan, thanks for taking the time out to speak to me before the screening. I know things down at Ikon are pretty hectic what with the Ron Terada install happening.
Hey, no worries. It’s my pleasure.
Great. Ok so, maybe you could tell me a bit about how you discovered Cody Critcheloe and his performance art electro outfit SSION.
I first came across SSION when I saw the band open for CSS in 2009. They were playing the Mayan in LA, a massive venue designed to look like an ancient Aztec temple. It was a theatre in the 1920s; set up to accommodate musicals, revues and the odd burlesque display. Nowadays they use it as a sort of club curio venue that people say you absolutely ‘have to see’, which you do, but it’s a pretty nightmarish affair.
Wow, what’s it like?
The exterior is all carved stone serpent heads and long, plain columns, which open out into full chieftain headdresses at the top. Inside ancient hieroglyphs and more serpent heads kind of reinforce the feeling that you’ve walked into the scene of your own ritual sacrifice. It’s a little disconcerting.
Anyway, as I’d come to see CSS I wasn’t expecting much from the opening act, but the stage had been decked out to look like some neon, outsider art, acid-trip. When the band rolled onstage they completely owned the place and the crowd were sort of wide-eyed and opened-mouthed at the scene. It was one of those rare times when people genuinely didn’t know what to make of what was in front of them. I mean people always talk about this or that band being ‘performance artists’ and lately that term is being bandied about in relation to people like Lady Gaga. The thing with SSION, though, was that there was a definite knowledge of a fine art practice. I could see that there was an awareness of Naim June Paik or General Idea in their onstage video and the set itself really reminded me of Robert Wilson or Assume Vivid Astro Focus or something.
SSION performing live on a Kansas city public access TV show for kids (2007)
Yes! I know what you mean. It’s different to Fischerspooner and the whole electroclash scene, which was really about fashion, and it’s a lot more than what Chicks on Speed are doing, which is just running around in clothes made of paper singing songs about Jeffrey Deitch or moving to Berlin.
Definitely. The SSION world just seemed so aesthetically complete and original. After the show I got talking to one of the backing dancers who I knew from another incredible group called Gravy Train…
Wait, is that the band we saw at the legendary Riot Girl night, Potty Mouth? The group whose male backing dancer performed naked for half the set after an audience member tore his y-fronts off?
Yep. He kind of filled me in on all things SSION, let me know about Cody Critcheloe (the man behind the band) and promised to send me a T-shirt that never came. They had these amazing tie dye T-shirts for sale that had the SSION face on them. You know, the handlebar moustache, monobrow and blacked out nose.
So how did you become aware of his art film BOY?
I checked MySpace as soon as I got the chance and just followed the band. They were producing these really great music videos and touring around the place supporting the Gossip and others. I saw a video blog of the Gossip’s UK album launch party and somebody was on there talking about a feature length art film that Cody had in production. I checked up on it and sure enough Grand Arts (a non-profit art space in downtown Kansas City) had commissioned and were premiering it and an exhibition was planned at Peres Projects. As soon as I saw that it was already done I got in touch with Cody and we talked about giving it its UK premiere at Ikon Eastside during the Flatpack Festival.
SSION installation at Peres Projects, LA 2010
How did the pairing with Pink Flamingos come about?
Well originally I talked to Flatpack about showing a series of art films under the title Water Babies. The idea was that before Pink Flamingos we’d show some films that were influenced by John Waters. Showcasing the heir’s to the throne that Waters left un-flushed, if you will.
We were going to have a piece by Kalup Linzy, a piece by Ryan Trecartin, then BOY followed by Pink Flamingos.
That sounds like a lot.
Exactly. So we made the decision to cut it to two films so that the length of the screening would run to three hours (which I think is the length of Avatar). It’s also a nicer space for both films to be in as they kind of complement each other. I’m loath to say it, because everybody throws the term around these days, but they are allowed to be in a kind of dialogue with each other and the audience.
I don’t really know what that means.
Well it’ll be a discursive space.
A what? I thought it was a screening?
Well it is but it should open up certain dialogical channels that will enable the audience to erm…explore stuff.
And you’ve got Twiggy presiding over the whole event.
Yep the First Lady of Birmingham drag will be there to harangue people at the door and host a little. She’s also doing her club night that night so she can only stay till about twenty past nine, but it’s going to be great to have her. The idea is that everyone can come in and just have a good time on the night, drink a few beers, hurl abuse at the screen, and each other, and prepare to witness the filthiest scene in cinematic history.
The original Pink Flamingos Trailer
Awesome, thanks a lot for letting us have an insight into your curatorial process and everything.
I’ll definitely be there.
I know you will.