“For some, camp is a lie that tells the truth. For others, it’s an unexpectedly intense commitment to the seemingly trivial. Some say that camp is so bad that it’s good. For others, it’s so good that it calls into question dominant value systems. Camp is a relatively established if difficult to pin down term in popular discourse and academic scholarship that has its origins in queer subcultural practice and slang. It refers both to a perverse and productive perspective on cultural products and to a flamboyant lifestyle. Moreover, camp provides new ways of looking at popular culture, cinema, performance and stars, as well as aesthetics, consumer-capitalism, gender identity and community.
“Camp/Anti-Camp” will interogate camp discourse by confronting it with a variety of cultural practices, including those typically described as camp and those seemingly unrelated to it. What if we juxtapose this discourse with hybrid international practices that tap into cultural, ethnic and historical traditions that are beyond the confines of queer culture? With exemplary performances and films, as well as with presentations by scholars and artists, the festival intends to question the explanatory power of camp discourse for a multitude of underrated cultural practices.
Following Mae West’s credo that “too much is not enough,” the festival offers nothing but highlights, including an intimate evening with queer icon and Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn and a concert-event by the sexually-transgressive cult performer Kembra Pfahler with her band “The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black.” There will also be performances by New York downtown legend Carmelita Tropicana, the young mysterious club act Narcissister and the notorious Austrian artist-duo Jakob Lena Knebl/Hans Scheirl. Moreover the festival will feature presentations by international scholars such as Douglas Crimp, Diedrich Diederichsen, Elizabeth Lebovici, José Muñoz and Juliane Rebentisch, and by artists such as Bruce LaBruce and Richard Move. Every evening the award-winning homo-core queen Vaginal Davis will bring festival guests and figures from Berlin’s cultural scene together for her talk-show performance “Vaginal Davis is Speaking from the Diaphragm.” Scholar Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz curated a section of the festival that explores the concept of tropicamp and focuses on tropicalism and internationalism in the avant-garde, Brazilian singer and Hollywood film star Carmen Miranda and contemporary performance impulses from Brazil. Tropicamp is a term coined by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica as a means of expressing his fascination for the anti-commercial tendencies within the 1960s US underground film scene (primarily the work of Mario Montez and Jack Smith). This section will offer an internationalist critique of camp discourse. Festival events will be complemented by films (by Hélio Oiticica and Jack Smith, among others), food performances (Foodgasm) and book and DVD-offers by b_books. Feel-good substances from the Voodoo Chanel Altar Bar will guarantee “Camp/Anti-Camp: A Queer Guide to Everyday Life” its uppers and downers.
A CHEAP production, in co-production with HAU and in co-operation with Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst, e.V. (Berlin), Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt am Main), and Microscope Gallery (New York). Sponsored with funds from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds.”