Beyond Queer is documentary produced by the Lower East Side Biography Project and is directed by Penny Arcade, Steve Zehentner and Anna Margarita Albelo
Beyond Queer is the first installment of a biography series that celebrates individuality while connecting the individual stories to the broader social, cultural & political context of rebellion and authenticity. The title, Beyond Queer, symbolizes the broadest notions of inclusion, and the hope of expanding the dialogue on identity, political activism, freedom of expression and the celebration of individuality. With theater artist Penny Arcade as the narrator and guide, Beyond Queer, has its roots in bohemian culture, and value system that welcomed all outsiders and stood in opposition to homogenization and mainstream culture.
This first volume, profiles four New Yorkers whose identity transcends labeling: Taylor Mead, Betty Dodson, Jack Waters, and Sarah Schulman. Woven in between the profiles, is Penny Arcade, who is on a mission to bring unfiltered bohemian realities and forgotten historical perspectives to the mainstream. Additional interview & performance segments with a variety of colorful characters drawn from the LES Bio Project archive work to contextualize the individual stories into a grander context.
As a prototype for the Project's biography series, Beyond Queer creates a new oral history genre in film and video. Each individual story or biography within the LES Bio Project's archive contains within its biographical narrative, connections and references to the broader context in which the life was lived. The proposed series seeks to distill the common thematics between individual stories, and connect these threads in an emotionally resonant way in order to tell a larger, more complex story. By stringing these individual stories together and adding additional context-lending material in compilation form, Beyond Queer delivers debate and meditation on many issues and complex points of view.
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The Lower East Side Biography Project was created in 1999 by performance artist Penny Arcade and video producer Steve Zehentner as an ongoing biography series and oral history archive. The LES Bio Project’s biographies and archive will help to ensure that future generations have access to the mad souls of invention and rebellion that built the Lower East Side’s international reputation as an incubator for authenticity and iconoclasm in art, culture and politics.
The project seeks to stem the tide of cultural amnesia by bridging the cultural gap between long time residents and newcomers to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of New York’s Lower East Side. To this end, the LES Bio Project has a community-media training component where young filmmakers are trained in production and post-production technologies and then become shepherds of an individual oral history that they edit into a 28-minute biography. Since its inception, the LES Bio Project has trained over forty individuals, completed forty 28-minute biographies, videotaped dozens more interviews and live events.
The project’s biographies cablecast in New York City every Monday at 11pm EST on Time Warner Channel 34, RCN 82, FIOS 33, and stream live on Manhattan Neighborhood Network Channel One mnn.org/live/1-community-channel
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