A Gay Bar Called Everywhere

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A Gay Bar Called Everywhere

Emily Roysdon's A Gay Bar Called Everywhere (With Costumes and No Practice) was a limited engagement performance at The Kitchen on May 6 and 7 of 2011. With this new work, Roysdon drew inspiration from The Kitchen's legacy of performance art, which has been consistently experimental and supportive of emerging artists since 1971.  

A Gay Bar Called Everywhere... is a performance event directed and designed by Roysdon. As a whole, the performance references performance art itself, queer culture, feminist intellectuals—all in what Roysdon has termed an "undisciplined, interdisciplinary run at herstory." It's clear that Roysdon revels in the collaborative moment, the trajectory between structure and spontaneity.

The show began with Tara Mateik reading a brief, "borrowed" text from the Declaration of Sentiments, presented at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Perhaps in reference to first, second and third waves of feminism, the second performer was Barbara Hammer reading Claude Cahun texts from her film Lover/Other.

Barbara Hammer during ReINcarnation: Claude Cahun as Barbara Hammer. Photograph by Paula Court.

Hammer's non-documentary work shows how the fragmentation of filmic process mirrors/reflects/refracts the experiences of fragmented existence. Roysdon's play was also steeped in a cut-up feel, one of vignetes paired together in a state of transparency with the viewer. When I asked Hammer about this comparison, Hammer responded: "We both give up the sense of pretense or illusion in our work and prefer to show the scraps, the process and celebrate the spontaneity of art making."

A Gay Bar Called Everywhere (With Costumes and No Practice) is curated by Matthew Lyons and featured collaborations with Vanessa Anspaugh and Aretha Aoki, Jibz Cameron, Dean Daderko, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Nicole Eisenman, Barbara Hammer, K8 Hardy, Yve Laris Cohen, Thomas J. Lax and Elaine Carberry, Neal Medlyn, MPA, Jeanine Oleson, Will Rawls, Charles Ryan, JD Samson, A.L. Steiner, Sacha Yanow, among others, depending on the night.

Emily Roysdon (left) with performer watching Vanessa Anspaugh and Aretha Aoki during Touch me, Fall, I'm so beautiful. Photograph by Paula Court.

Grace Moon and I sat down for an interactive review of the show, where we talk about the performance, art and activism. What follows is our wildly well-mannered dialogue about A Gay Bar Called Everywhere...

Moon: So, what did you think?

Patricia: It was like a self-generating hotbed of ideas. It wasn't meant to be linear narrative, and I love that in general. But let's get to the point of this. Can you imagine Susan Sontag at a gay bar?

Moon: You need to explain the whole Sontag inspiration.

Patricia: As per the program notes: "A Gay Bar... began with [Roysdon] imagining all of Susan Sontag's life and work taking place in a gay bar. She never leaves the table. People come and go. Styles, decades." And that led Roysdon to loose formulations about performance.