Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Bearded Ladies founder has world premiere at the Guggenheim

The founding Artistic Director of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret brings Rose: You Are Who You Eat to NYC with a world premiere at Works & Process at the Guggenheim on March 26.

The project explores a personal queer tale through original songs, films and floral couture.

“It’s not every day you learn that you are a gender cannibal” says John Jarboe.

Jarboe is talking about a conversation with her aunt during which she was told that she ate her twin in-utero, a baby that would have been named Rose. Her aunt went on to say “that’s why you are the way you are” referring to Jarboe’s gender identity.

And so, the seed was sown for what would become Rose: You Are Who You Eat.

A shrine of music, image, objects, and text, Rose brings together a team of queer artists, including composers and musicians Emily Bate, Daniel de Jesús, Pax Ressler, and Be Steadwell with director Mary Tuomanen, to tell the legend of John and Rose. Jarboe, known as the founding artistic director of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, explores this tale through musical styles ranging from art song to 1980s pop ballad, elaborate floral-inspired costumes made by Rebecca Kanach, intimate storytelling, and a feast of wordplay. This evening will feature a concert of original songs performed by a live band and set alongside a garden of images made with filmmaker Christopher Ash. After this event, the project will continue to evolve into films and an art installation in which fellow genderqueers can nourish their own idiosyncratic identities.

Photo by Christopher Ash

Rose first came to life in Jarboe’s Works & Process Artists (WPA) Virtual Commission, an initiative launched by Works & Process in the early days of the pandemic to provide artists with creative and financial support during a period of uncertainty. Working towards shaping a more inclusive, fair, and representative and colorful world, Works & Process commissioned the live performance of Rose and provided the project with a bubble residency at Mount Tremper Arts in fall 2020. In spring 2021 the project also received a Works & Process bubble residency at Bethany Arts Community, made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which culminated in an in-process performance at the Guggenheim rotunda in one of the first indoor performances permitted by New York State during the pandemic.

Following the Works & Process premiere on March 26, the concert experience of Rose can be seen at CulturalDC’s Source Theatre on April 1-2. Over the next 18 months, CulturalDC will work with Jarboe to realize the evolution of Rose into an immersive, multidisciplinary installation. Conceptualized as an interactive cabinet of curiosities, Rose will be presented in CulturalDC’s Mobile Art Gallery (a shipping container turned moveable art space) in summer 2023. Jarboe will activate the installation with a series of public performances.

Photo by Christopher Ash

Says Jarboe: “As queer folx, however we identify, we are always in dynamic tension between being who we are authentically and the tyranny of respectability: fitting in by making ourselves more palatable, more recognizable to a cis-het society in order to get through the day, escape harassment, and for some of us, just to survive. I don’t pass. I don’t fit into a clean, commercialized narrative of transition. What I love about the story of Rose, is that it is unmistakably disrespectful, pretty tasteless, and entirely me.”

Rose: You Are Who You Eat Spring 2022 Performances

March 26 New York, NY – World premiere at Works & Process at the Guggenheim, tickets here

April 1-2 Washington, DC – CulturalDC’s Source Theatre, tickets here

*Proof of vaccination required at all events*

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John Hernandez

John A. Hernandez is a staff writer for Queer Forty with a focus on entertainment. He is also a writer for Vacationer Magazine and a contributor to Bear World Magazine and Gayming Magazine. He has a special love for all things horror and Halloween. He currently resides with his husband in New York City.

John Hernandez has 135 posts and counting. See all posts by John Hernandez

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