Dolly Wilde’s Picture-Show

Artist statement by Rebecca Nesvet

And still they come and go: and this is all I know–
That from the gloom I watch an endless picture-show…

Siegfried Sassoon, “Picture-Show” (1920)

Playwrite Rebecca Nesvet about her Dolly Wilde’s Picture-Show

Dolly WildeWhen I read Sassoon’s ‘Picture-Show’, the poem doesn’t call up only the ghosts of the fallen ‘men’ eulogized in the second verse. It also recalls other veterans of the First World Wars, who afterwards felt as haunted as did Sassoon: the women who served as nurses, telegraph-operators, and ‘motor-drivers’, including drivers of Red Cross and privately-operated ambulances. Among those women was Dorothea Ierne (‘Dolly’) Wilde (1895-1941), niece of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) [see vintage photo]. Dolly’s story intrigued me. What brought her to the front? What had she experienced there? How might it have shaped her later life, and perhaps her youthful death?

While investigating these questions, I encountered SPIR Conceptual Photography (Jill Casid and María DeGuzmán)’s 1994 photo series Oscaria/Oscar (see photo below), which in a kind of modern, color spirit-photography imagines interactions between Dolly and her uncle, Oscar Wilde [see vintage photo] — or perhaps Dolly and herself, posing as her uncle — or even Oscar and his double on (pace Dorian Gray) the other side of a frame.
Oscar WildeIt’s a haunting tribute to a Lost Generation — Dolly’s, perhaps, but certainly the Lost Generation of the 1980s-90s: the earliest victims of the HIV-AIDS epidemic; the generation to which Dolly’s uncle might have belonged, had he been born a century later than he was. How, Casid and deGuzmán have asked, can we ‘love our dead back to life?’ In Oscaria/Oscar, they show Dolly trying to do this, and maybe Oscar loving (albeit perhaps in a self-regarding way) his niece to a fully-realized life as an early-twentieth-century lesbian. Like Sassoon’s cinema of post-combat nightmare, Oscaria/Oscar is a dynamically paranormal ‘Picture-Show’.

I decided that its pictures ought to move and change, like Dorian’s picture, and to interact with the three-dimensional, living Dolly. Which means that Oscar/Oscaria had to be adapted as theatre.
Oscaria / Oscar by SPIRMy first attempt at that adaptation, Dolly Wilde’s Picture-Show, will be presented as a workshop production, with projections from Oscaria/Oscar, as part of the Process Series at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in August 2014. [Further details about the performance below.]

Why must Dolly’s life be told as a living ‘Picture-Show’? Because Sassoon’s poem presents an unusually accurate approximation of her memory; of her imaginative life; and of the way that those acquaintances, friends, and lovers who survived her remembered her, because for many of them, Dolly wasn’t just a First World War private ambulance driver. She was also a prominent member of a lesbian (mainly), feminist (unanimously) literary-artistic circle based at the home of her American lover Natalie Clifford Barney, at 21 Rue Jacob, Paris. So when she died, frustratingly young, she was mourned by very expressive women.

Also, she was both apparitional and clairvoyant. She was often seen as her uncle’s double, ‘ghosting’ him: Barney called her ‘Oscaria’ (posthumously, at least) and H. G. Wells, perhaps seeing her as a time-traveller rather than an apparition, called her a ‘feminine [Oscar] Wilde’. That was a persona she not only owned, fiercely, but radically reinvented. No doubt to Barney’s delight, Dolly attended a 1930 costume ball posing ‘as Oscar’. But she was no mirror image. A surviving, undated photograph shows Dolly dressed appropriately, in the ‘aesthetic’ collar shirt, puffy, loose bow-tied silk cravat, and fur-lapelled coat in which Oscar posed for the New York society photographer in 1882, and which became his indelible public image to this day. It’s an image associated with independence and freedom and cultural authority, for it was his costume when he crossed North America by rail, lecturing on the Aesthetic movement, European artists, and interior decorating as part of an engagement by Robert d’Oyly-Carte’s opera company, which was satirizing Aestheticism in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience. So, at the costume ball, Dolly poses as an authority on art and artists (such as the Renaissance Women of the Rue Jacob?) and an intrepid traveler, which she also was, though her mode of travel was the motor-car. But she also differentiates herself from her uncle. She wears makeup, highlighting not necessarily her femininity, but the theatricality of femininity itself. She self-consciously fashions herself both ‘feminine’ and ‘Wilde’.

Moreover, Dolly’s very act of ‘posing’ as her uncle but not emulating him to the point of self-disappearance (as did her Wilde-forger cousin Arthur Cravan) is a paradoxical kind of ghosting, and a gift to her ancestor. Oscar Wilde’s troubles with British law began in 1985 when John Sholto Douglas, Marquess of Queensberry, put into circulation a calling card addressed to Wilde ‘posing as a somdomite [sic]’. Queensberry did this to interfere with his son, Lord Alfred Douglas’s, three-year-long relationship with Wilde, of which parts of the public were aware. Apparently not wishing to ‘out’ his son in an era when sodomy was dangerously criminalized, Queensberry claimed that Wilde was only ‘posing’ as a man who has same-sex relations. By combining theatrical womanhood with a Wildean persona, Dolly gives her uncle’s ghost a chance to affirm his truth, by affirming hers, for she was not just ‘posing’ as a lesbian: she was owning this truth. In most ghost stories, when the living help the ghost to live up to their abandoned responsibilities, the ghost is allowed to rest in peace. Perhaps that was the gift she gave her uncle, in exchange for the gift of family precedent that he gave her, to equip her for her messy but revolutionary life.

DOLLY WILDE’S PICTURE-SHOW

Script by Rebecca Nesvet
Featuring Marie Garelick and Paula Nance
Directed by Joseph Megel
Design by Kevin Spellman
Incorporating images from Oscaria/Oscar (1994), © SPIR Conceptual Photography (María DeGuzmán and Jill Casid)

Thursday, August 21 at 8:00 pm
Friday, August 22 at 8:00 pm

Swain Hall, Studio 6
University of North Carolina (UNC-Chapel Hill), USA

FREE and open to the public

[Photo Above :  Dolly Wilde, vintage photo. Oscar Wilde, vintage photo. "Oscaria / Oscar" Photo: #3 in a sequence of 6 with the collaboration of Camille Norton and Jane Picard. Copyright © 1994 by Jill Casid & María DeGuzmán]

About Rebecca Nesvet

Rebecca Nesvet (PhD, English, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2014; MFA, Dramatic Writing, New York University, 2008) is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. She has won the 2002 Arch and Bruce Brown Playwriting Award for LGBT history plays, a 2007 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Writing Grant, and the International Conference on Romanticism’s 2012 Lore Metzger Prize. Her research is published in WOMEN’S WRITING, THE KEATS-SHELLEY JOURNAL, and PRISM(S): ESSAYS IN ROMANTICISM, and she is editing Mary Russell Mitford’s banned play CHARLES THE FIRST (1824) for the Digital Mitford.

Nest by Coral Short

Artist statement by Coral Short

Nest by Coral Short
Nest by Coral Short. Photos courtesy of the artist.

Description:

Nest is an interactive sculpture that is about caring for our community’s cultural workers and activists. I encouraged the audience at The Hemispheric Institute Encuentros to unwind by finding my large, human-sized nest on wheels during the opening night of the festival. I pushed the portable sculpture around on the sidewalks and streets in between the different venues so people could relax. The nest was created out of woven willow as well as dried plants and dead branches from multiple foraging trips into urban nature. The velvety nest interior provided a great place to chirp with a friend or take a nap.

Collective Creation:

My background is in fibres and textiles. This project involved the use of both the warp and weft from my weaving days. Creating Nest was a very collaborative process involving many friends chatting and weaving at once. We soaked the willow first in a giant bathtub for days so it would be pliable. The structure became more and more massive, solid, strong, and realistic with each passing day. My creation team and I put about 200 hours of labour into this woven sculpture. We created it in my backyard in Montreal surrounded by snacks, birds, squirrels, and trees.

The Animal:

Over the years I have worked with both wolves and unicorns. But for many years, I have wanted to create a large nest with human birds. I was pleased it finally came to fruition. The ceramic egg was conceptualized and designed at the last minute, glazed and fired in the kiln, by my highly skilled friend Wai-Yant Li. This beautifully crafted object brought an even higher performativity to the work. People enjoyed the role they played as guardian of the egg. They seemed to deeply relish carefully holding the unhatched egg with an interesting sense of purposeful care and protection.

Social Practice:

Practicing intimacy through encounters within art has been the backbone of my work for years. I love to investigate themes of community, trust, and energy exchanges. This piece is no different in that I am caretaking in a fun, light hearted way for all my participants. Interactivity, I believe, is crucial within my art making practice as it breaks down the cold hard barriers between the artist and the audience. It also allows for people not only to touch the actual art but to be an integral part of it – something that has been disallowed by institutions for years. We all remember security guards at museums sternly telling us to step away from the art. Instead this art acts as an excuse for human interaction – the participant being at the center of this work rather than the art. The work was highly interactive with people chatting amongst themselves, with me, or with their friend. There was even some impromptu performances, music making, and dancing in and next to the work! Encuentro was a festival of over 700 performance artists, activists and academics from North and South America, so there was a definite joie de vivre in the audience.

My team consisted of:

Zuzu Knew, D.j. Fraser, Morgan Paige, Asher Faerstein, Troy La Biche Davis, Wai-Yant Li, Felix Foxglove, Lailye Weidman, Alexis O’Hara, Tif Flowers, Julie Matson and K Hanley. Photography by: Nikol Mikus Curators: Stephen Lawson and Shauna Janssen.

Nest by Coral Short
Nest by Coral Short. Above: the egg by Wai-Yant Li. Photo courtesy of Coral Short

Nest by Coral Short
Nest by Coral Short at The Hemispheric Institute Encuentros. Photos courtesy of the artist.

Nest by Coral Short
Nest by Coral Short at The Hemispheric Institute Encuentros. Photos courtesy of the artist.

About Coral Short

Coral Short is an international queer performance artist and curator. Coral has studied Performance Art at the Chelsea School of Art, London, U.K. Her recent performances include The Insiders, Flânerie, Nest and the collaborative performance Scream Choir. She curated Craftivism an art gathering with an exhibition, performances, installations, videos, workshops and a panel in New York in 2013. And the Craftivism short film programme, about queerness, feminism, and craft, for MIX NYC 2013. Coral is curently based in Montreal, Canada.

Chicano Park iPhoneography by Tina Rice

Artist statement and photos by Tina Rice / COMBO APPS: Mobile Extreme Editing

 
Chicano Park by Tina Rice
Photo from the Chicano Park iPhoneography series by Tina Rice

Artist Statement by Tina Rice

Tina Rice: I’m a photography/mobile based artists. Everything I do now is from my iPhone and iPad. All my traditional photographic education came from Grossmont College and MOPA Workshops. The Digital Photography came from taking two classes at Grossomont and self taught from Flickr. I taught myself how to use a lot of the photo and art software programs. This is how I learned, how to push and manipulate pixels, since I could not do it in the darkroom anymore.

2010 when I got my iPhone 4, it changed the way I photograph and edit photos. After learning how to push pixels on Photoshop, it was easy to do this with mobile photo apps. I taught myself how to edit photos using different combination of applying photo apps on top of each other. I wanted to learn more about other photo apps and buy more of them. I was into two websites, iPhoneography (no longer exists) and Life in Lofi: iPhoneography. The websites provided reviews on photos apps, but didn’t really tell you how to operate them or go into real details.

Since I wanted to learn more with no blogs out there to teach you anything about Mobile Photography or Editing. On New Years Day 2011, I decided to write my own blog posts called Combo Apps: Mobile Extreme Editing with only a handful of readers. Today I have a few thousands readers, test photo apps for developers, write product reviews for mobile photo gear, a guest writer for Life in Lofi: iPhoneography and helping out Dan Macrolina with Mobile Masters. I even help out Android Mobile Photographers. Marty Yawnick, who publishes Life in LoFi, has quoted:
Tina Rice is The App Jedi of the Mobile Arts Movement. She dosen’t just execute a few photos apps well but hundreds of photo apps really well…!!!

Chicano Park by Tina Rice
Photo from the Chicano Park iPhoneography series by Tina Rice

Chicano Park iPhoneography

The photos that are shown from the Chicano Park iPhoneography series are taken from my iPhone 4S and edited on my iPad. The apps that were used are ProCamera (n/a), Snapseed and PicBoost. They were taken at Chicano Park. Chicano Park is over 40 years old, iconic to San Diego and part of the Hispanic Community. It is one of the most beautiful parks in San Diego with the large colorful murals, painted under the overpass to Coronado Bridge.

The park has had a lot of cultural and violent history, today the park is safe to walk around during the day and snap a few pictures. It a quiet park where you see people walking in, out and around the park, playing handball in the racquetball court, people sitting at the benches socializing or tossing a few hoops at the basketball court. You will see the occasional drunk who has passed out on the grassy knoll.

I’ve been down there twice to take photos. The first time with my DSLR and a photographer friend. The second time alone with my iPhone, early in the morning on an overcast day during May Gray.

Chicano Park by Tina Rice
Photo from the Chicano Park iPhoneography series by Tina Rice

Chicano Park by Tina Rice
Photo from the Chicano Park iPhoneography series by Tina Rice

Chicano Park by Tina Rice
Photo from the Chicano Park iPhoneography series by Tina Rice

About Tina Rice

Tina Rice was born and raised in San Diego, California. She is a photographer, blogger and out artist, who publishes step by step tutorials on extreme editing with apps on iDevices and other mobile devices at her website Combo Apps: Mobile Extreme Editing. Along with in-depth app reviews, products, mobile photo essays. You can find and follow her on Instagram @ashcroft54 or see her artworks at her Flickr photostream.

Related Links

Chicano Park iPhoneography, an essay by Tina Rice, 2013
COMBO APPS – Tina Rice’s blog
Tina Rice at Flickr

Suzie Pindar – Endless Possibilities

Dream by Suzie Pindar
Suzie Pindar – Dream, 21cm x 29.7cm, black edged wood frame 32.5cm x 42.5cm

Endless Possibilities – a group mixed media exhibition

Camden Image Gallery
174 Royal College Street, Camden, London
March 8 – 20 2014

UK artist and queer woman Suzie Pindar takes part in the exhibition titles Endless Possibilities at Camden Image Gallery in London. Suzie identifies as a Self Expressive Artist.

Artist Statement by Suzie Pindar

“I feel now as I have got stronger, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, that I am no longer surviving, or existing, I am finally living, embracing the world and all it has to offer through my art. I look at the world differently, I feel empowered by it, and I take much of my inspiration from life, lust, and love and how someone makes me feel. Random thoughts, circle my head today, contemplative, positive energy, excitement, friendships unfolding, breathing life, inspired deep in my core, wanting to share, expose, the beauty that one feels for …..”

Writings plays a big part in Suzie’s creative work. She presents some of her writings at her blog http://artistsuziepindar.wordpress.com

Primal HeArt by Belle Ancell

Text & photo: Belle Ancell, Canada

Photo by Belle Ancell
Amber Dawn, writer. Photo from the Primal HeArt series by Belle Ancell

Artist Statement by Belle Ancell

Belle Ancell: The Primal HeArt series is from a photo project I was invited to participate in out of Toronto, Canada called the 10×10 Photography Project. The Project invites ten photographers from across Canada to create ten portraits of individuals who have contributed to the LGBTQ arts in their community. Those 100 portraits were shown at a Gallery in Toronto in June 2013 and also published in a photo book.

My series honored Vancouver artists and the primal heart connection to their artistic expression. I invited my ten subjects to choose words that described what their artistic expression evoked for them. These deeply intimate words were then spray painted onto their bodies by artist Carole Lagimodiere, and they were photographed semi nude.

I have experienced firsthand the vulnerability of sharing one’s art with the world and I felt that having them pose in the nude would help to illustrate that vulnerability. I also love how light and shadow can create texture, form and beauty when photographing the human body.

I endeavored to create an atmosphere of collaboration with my subjects with poses and lighting that would suit their personalities and to some extent their gender expression. Instead of posing, or imposing upon the individuals I photographed, I endeavored to create a space for them to express their heart connection through their chosen text and their body movement.

Photo by Belle Ancell
Gwen Haworth, filmmaker. Photo from the Primal HeArt series by Belle Ancell

Photo by Belle AncellMiss M, DJ. Photo from the Primal HeArt series by Belle Ancell

Photo by Belle Ancell
Noam Gagnon, dancer and choreographer. Photo from the Primal HeArt series by Belle Ancell

Photo by Belle Ancell
Eileen Kage, taiko drummer. Photo from the Primal HeArt series by Belle Ancell

About Belle Ancell
Belle Ancell is a queer photographer. She was born and raised in the Kootenays and currently lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her primary focus is on intimate portraiture to create compelling images that reflect the visually unique qualities of her models. Belle took part in TransgressionNow, the curated visual art exhibition of the Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver 2013.