Tosun's Dinner and Wake

Videofreex

1971 | 00:32:14 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive, Single Titles

Tags: Art Collective, City, Death and Dying, Performance

In this tape the Videofreex document an impromptu experimental art gathering in 1971, hosted by New York artist, Tosun Bayrak. Before entering the gathering, the Freex record their encounters with a police officer, passersby, and a member of Vegetarians for Ecological Action (an animals’ rights activist group) protesting the misuse of animals in performance art. On the door leading up to the space where the gathering will take place, Bayrak publicizes the evening as a “wake for the late Captain Hasan Tursun Efendi” and a “Ritualistic Celebration Commemorating a War Hero” in keeping with his recent experimental performance art practice. Later, when inside this “ritualistic celebration,” the Freex document the haziness of the crowded room, aquariums filled with crustaceous oddities, hypnotic chanting, dance, food offerings, and noisy musical interludes.

In addition to providing the rare opportunity to enter an intimate space of a performance, decades after its enactment, this tape is rich in its historical preservation of the intersection of politics, art, law enforcement, and mysticism, a nexus that developed throughout the 1970s as body art and radical practice emerged. The confluence of ambiguous actions, snippets of overheard comments from attendees, and the ambient mood of the evening provide an excellent portrait of the type of environment—shaped by physical, sociological, and emotional dynamics—in which experimental performance art and its audiences came to be during the ‘70s.

— Faye Gleisser

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Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001

 

Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001

 

 

Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung