clipclub special: queer-feminist film program on labor & sexuality
curated by Brigitta Kuster and Karin Michalski
screenings: Künstlerhaus Bethanien, exhibition space of »normal love«

Sa. 20.01.07, 7 pm: gender and sexuality at work

Su. 21.01.07, 7 pm: sexual semiotics

Sa. 03.03.07, 7 pm: maids & mistresses

Su. 04.03.07, 7 pm: melancholic work on heterosexuality

On four evenings »normal work« will present films and videos that investigate opportunities and challenges of sexuality / gender in everyday worklife. With what kind of (varying) demands of gender-performance are we confronted? And how is it possible to reject or deflect them? What about all the ›work‹ that is done by this? And why do certain conjunctions of ›woman being‹, heterosexuality, femininity, masculinity, whiteness with specific positions in the work-field continue to be so significant for society?

The selected films document chances of self-positioning or are themselves examples of performative interventions in everyday life - queer acts of sabotage of normal work. Together with guests and the audience we want to discuss how the sexual politics of attractive images, perfidious tricks or ironic narratives can change the usual forms of expression.

Brigitta Kuster & Karin Michalski


gender and sexuality at work

Saturday, 20. January 2007, 7 pm

Guests: filmmakers / artists Oreet Ashery and Del LaGrace Volcano

To perform an unambiguous gender, to fulfil the criteria of heteronormative sexuality and, above all, to deal with the contradictions and incompatibilities that arise can be incredibly stressful. It requires an expenditure that functions not dissimilarly to work. This expenditure can be part of the required job qualifications – or it can be an endeavour that feeds on its de-normalizing capital; that is queering, produces powerful excesses, or is simply amusing.

Audition Tape. Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, CDN 2003, 8 min.

In Audition Tape Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay positions himself – defining himself as gay, white, 29 years old, good singing voice – in front of the camera, to apply for a job in the Russian Teen-Girl-Pop-Band t.A.T.u. A tape, in which confession, identification and memory interweave into a new format: Mainstream culture, political history and sexual politics are made visible as interpellations in which the individual wish for recognition and success is intertwined.

Tatu. Anna Margarita Albelo, F 2003, 3 min.

And again t.A.T.u., with the song »All the Things She Said«, as a sweeping stage-performance and biting appropriation of the mainstream image of a lesbian teeniecouple. »This performance was a re-working of the t.A.T.u. video that caused the scandal with the girl gay kiss (which was really not a big deal)! I thought if you're going to have a kiss – make it last A LONG TIME!! And then of course, breaking away from the victim position and busting the fence!!« (Anna Margarita Albelo)

Im Prinzip haben wir nichts gegen Mädchen . Riki Kalbe, Theo Kondring and Gunter Stallmann, D 1975 /76, 13 min.

The protagonist Ela is visiting the vocational school for unemployed girls in Berlin. »As a child they always told me that I should become a hairdresser.« But Ela wants »to become a painter« – a wish that has to stand its ground against the preconceptions of the foremen and the director Müller of the Federal Employment Office. Ela: »But when a guy comes in, he could be half my size, and I could probably knock him over with my breath, but he will get the apprenticeship position. Cause he's a boy, ain't he! It's something totally different.«

Gender Queer. Qu'est-ce que c'est? Del LaGrace Volcano and
Cara Lavan, GB 2005, 5 min.

»Del goes out onto the streets of London with a camera and microphone searching for someone who can prove they are really a ›man‹ and a ›woman‹. Five hilarious minutes of both predictable answers and at least one big surprise.« (Del LaGrace Volcano)

queering work. Karin Michalski and Sabina Baumann,
D / CH 2007, 13 min.

»How can one describe the diverse setups of norms of gender, sexuality and ›whiteness‹ at work places? 12 interviewees tell us about their experiences with ›work‹ and their queer strategies within.« (Karin Michalski / Sabina Baumann)

Marcus Fisher's Wake. Oreet Ashery, GB 2002, 18 min.

»[…] So my born alter ego, Marcus Fisher, was born. ›Mar-Cus‹ translated in Hebrew to ›Mr. Cunt‹. The ›home coming‹ feeling I associated with my relationship to Marcus is not particularly connected to my own sense of sexuality or a desire to be a man. It is culturally specific; it is my way to be visibly Jewish. It is my way into Judaism. If I am to enact a potential Jewishness within me, it might as well be a male Jewishness – as that is where the fun is, and the privilege.« (Oreet Ashery) The episodes that are told in this film about the life of the character »Marcus Fisher« plumb the depths of queering and othering and confront us with the unambiguities that usually establish a legibility of gender, sexual, religious or ethnic affiliation. The film indirectly poses the question of the societal compatibility of a queer and jewish position.

sexual semiotics

Sunday, 21. January 2007, 7 pm
Guest: filmmaker / artist Kai Kaljo

Similar to learning the alphabet, femininities and masculinities need to be practised, so that they can perform ›well‹ at certain workplaces. »Sexual semiotics« presents a number of short video clips, which have sexual institutions or fantasies as a central theme. How important is sexuality in this profitable teaching of gender at work?

Semiotics of the Kitchen. Martha Rosler, USA 1975, 6 min.

Familiar hand movements with kitchen objects are new-ly cast in an alphabetical grammar from aggression to anger and are amusingly-threateningly set against normalising projections of domestic daily life.

Semiotics of the Bitchin'. K8 Hardy and Therine Youngblood, USA 2001, 8 min.

A Grrl-Remake of the legendary feminist video by Martha Rosler. In Therine Youngblood's words it's about »a tool kit for a new feminist generation, a recipe for a bed-room revolution«.

Hole. Sterling Ruby, USA 2002, 1.46 min.

A setting with two shop assistants engaged in the repetitive act of hiding merchandise in a hole in the wall.

The Heroine of Post Socialist Labour. Mare Tralla, EST / UK 2004, 3.55 min.

»During the Soviet time women were celebrated as work-heroines: milkmaids, tractor drivers, factory workers etc. Feminine aspects of everyday life were then overlooked. Therefore it is not surprising that women in new independent and capitalist societies in Eastern-Europe are obsessed with the notion of feminine beauty. The ›working‹ women who achieve super-model like body and looks are the new post-socialist work-heroines. In my video I look ironically on this new work, compare it with the old heroines work to see if they are both equally hard.« (Mare Tralla)

Mutiny. Abigail Child, USA 1982, 11 min.

A montage of found footage and staged scenes in which women talk, dance, cook, sing; are at work, at home, in the street, at school or at the gym. The dizzying noise of a biopolitical productivity machine. Our attention is drawn to this mutiny of gendered expressions, poses and repetitive gestures.

Working girl. Corine Stübi, D 2004, 5 min.

Stereotyped embodiments and gestures of a secretary, go-go-dancer, hairdresser, teacher, mother, doctor, but-cher, masturbator or nurse. The »working girl« is presented as a sort of machine that produces a standardized and consumable product: womanhood. But in the hyperfunctional and robot-like there can be possible misconduct – dysfunctions resulting from the restrictive character of the demands.

The Adventures of a Nurse. Eleanor Antin, USA 1976

Eleanor Antin appears as an impersonator in nurse garb in this melodramatic-comic soap about a female heterosexual submission fantasy and narrates all involved roles – represented by paper dolls – herself. Eleanor An-tin says about herself that in her works she is dealing with the »the slippery nature of self«.

Domestic Violence. Kai Kaljo, EST 2001, 15 min.

In three scenes Kai Kaljo demonstrates relationship rituals. First: Kai Kaljo is sitting on a sofa with her son, trying to make contact. Secondly: Kai Kaljo ties her ex-husband to the bed and questions him about their former relationship. Thirdly: the son, alone on the sofa, pets a rat.

Sometimes the Dress is Worth More Money than the Money. Tracey Emin, GB 2000, 4 min.

Tracey Emin, wearing a traditional wedding gown with bank notes attached to it, is escaping in the dryness of a Cypriotic landscape to the soundtrack of the western »The Good, the Bad and the Ugly«. Tracey Emin describes the film as »… a childhood fantasy. I saw this wedding dress in the window… and some shoes and flowers… I had to make a film about it. The shopkeeper must have thought we were having a shotgun wedding.«

A Loser. Kai Kaljo, EST 1997, 1 min.

A woman, the artist herself, is talking to the camera. She is making statements about her (work) everyday life that are commented on by imported laughter.

maids & mistresses

Saturday, 04. March 2007, 7 pm
Guest: filmtheorist Marie-Hélène Gutberlet

The seemingly historical figures of ›maid‹ and ›mistress‹ keep haunting social and sexual public fantasies. This program wants to take a ›queering‹ look at post / colonial (relationship-)work, that is performed within circumstances shaped by an imbalance of power, violence, dependence, supply and desire.

Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy. Tracey Moffatt, AUS 1990, 19 min.

Sarcastically staged in the setting of the social solitariness of the Australian outback, an old invalid and a young female nurse act out this cinematic chamber piece. It is a horror-tragicomedy of domestic hand movements, mute sounds and noisy work about love and dependence. Night Cries tells about a relationship that is affected by the formation of a nation and the forced assimilation of the »Aborigines« that was practised until the 1970s, and can also be read as a pointed critique of colonialist ethnographic film, which traditionally addressed Aboriginal issues through idioms and conventions particular to naturalistic documentary filmmaking.

The Sanders' Family. amateur films, Dutch-Indies, 1932-1937, a selection

In the 1930s the Dutch Sanders family ran a gold mine in the former colony of the Dutch East Indies (today: Sumatra, Indonesia) and left behind more than seventeen amateur movies about their everyday lives there. Our selection of movies will zoom in on the relationship between the white colonisers and the »Inlandsch personeel«, e.g., in »The domestics of the Sanders Family are diligent at all times« from 1935.

»It is not the Dutch family Sanders but their domestics who are at the centre of these amateur movies. The chauffeur is shown driving the car, other employees are preparing flowers, doing laundry, or gardening. […] The domestics move around in a Europeanized environment. Subjection seems to have given way to friendliness, but reappears in a marriage scene with the bride being forced into the picture against her will. Still, an atmosphere of friendly consent is present in the camera movement, or at least a sort of melancholic affection is alluded to some time before the imminent departure to Europe.« (Marie-Hélène Gutberlet)

Lip. Tracey Moffatt and Gary Hillberg, AUS 1999, 10 min.

Lip deals with the traditional role of »maid / mammy« black women played in Hollywood movies: This subversive collage of video material primarily shows scenes where hierarchies between the female servants and their employers are momentarily mobilised e. g., when the remoteness from everyday life of the white heterosexual middle class woman becomes scornfully exposed. One of the servants even becomes a »sister in crime« and thus refuses to adopt the inferior position imposed on her. Another one becomes best friends with actress Elizabeth Taylor, who not only has her riding boots undone in a pretty ambiguous way, but also becomes part of a lecherous alliance against her husband, an old military fossil.

Greetings From Africa. Cheryl Dunye, USA 1994, 8 min.

Cheryl Dunye casts herself as the protagonist hunting for a date. Her ironic perspective on the US lesbian scene in the nineties exposes its clichéd projections and desires. Seemingly trivial, the story about the relationship between a white High-Femme, »L«, and her black lovers points out the continuity of the colonial relations.

Forever Bottom! Nguyen Tan Hoang, USA 1999, 4 min.

A funny and sexually explicit short movie about a gay »bottom« in action. It comments on the stereotype of the »Asian Bottom« and questions the continuity of colonial subjugation in sexual fantasies and practices. »In Western gay male subculture, being the Bottom is associated with femininity, faggotry, weakness, and sexual insatiability. To call someone a Bottom is almost a put-down, a devaluation of his masculinity, his aspiration-to-butchness. The tape takes an unrelenting look at the insatiable appetite of an Asian male Bottom. It pokes fun at the viewer's voyeurism by positioning him / her as the invisible Top.« (Nguyen Tan Hoang)

melancholic work on heterosexuality

Sunday, 04. March 2007, 7 pm

Guests: filmmakers / artists Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz ,
Tanja Ostojic
and queer theorist Jane Ward

Heterosexuality is taken for granted in almost every work relationship, whereas other possible behaviours and potentials are denied and not acknowledged. How should this be addressed? Should one remain in a position of melancholic adherence? Aggressively examine the normative power of heterosexuality, or over-affirm it? – This program debates the different strategies of dealing with the heterosexual norm.

Why I Never Became a Dancer. Tracey Emin, GB 1995, 7 min.

The narrator remembers her first sexual encounters in her hometown Margate. As a teenager she found a sort of basic happiness through sex until she discovers that what she really wants to do is dance. At a dance competition she suffers a decisive trauma: While on stage a group of former »lovers« rhythmically holler the word »slut« at her. Finally the narrator herself enters the scene and carries us away with a dance in front of and with the camera.

Take Off. Susan Mogul, USA 1974, 10 min.

»I made Take Off in my studio apartment on Myra Avenue during my second year living in Los Angeles. As a member of the Feminist Studio Workshop, I was writing an essay at the time comparing male artists' representations of their sexuality with female artists'. Vito Acconci was my model for a male perspective. I had been captivated by his videotapes; particularly Undertone, where he was supposed to be masturbating while seated at a table. The videotape was my ultimate response and commentary on Acconci as well as an expression of my own sexuality.« (Susan Mogul)

I'll Be Your Angel. Tanja Ostojic, Paris / Venice /
Novi Sad (Serbia) 2001 / 2002,15 min.

»I'll Be Your Angel consists of my accompanying Mr. Szeemann during the opening days [of the Biennale] around Venice (including cocktails, dinners, press conferences). I will be naturally performing as his escort – his Angel. This piece, integrated in everyday life, poses potential ambiguous narratives concerning the scandalous artist (and the curator). It provokes an invitation / invasion, and questions the power structure in the art world.« (Tanja Ostojic)

Sometimes you fight for the world, sometimes you fight for yourself. Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, D 2004, 5 min.

»Starring an androgynous duo miming the words to ›Her Story‹ from the new-wave band Flying Lizards, this video references Jack Smith in a queer appropriation of gender and the exotic. It is set amongst the foliage of a 19th century botanical garden in a commentary on colonialism with it's obsession of the exotic, male / female coding and its focus on money and desire.« (Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz)

Shinjuku Boys. Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams, GB 1995, 53 min.

Gaish, Tatsu and Kazuki work as »Hosts« at the New Marilyn Club in Tokyo's Shinjuku district. The club is frequented by women wishing to be entertained by the »Hosts«. Some of the female visitors articulate their frustration with their heterosexual relationships. Though all three protagonists identify as » Onnabe « (women living as men) the film does not convey the idea of distinct gender categories. The protagonists freely develop their own concepts of gender and sexuality in their conversations. The film focuses on the host-client relationship, the role of friendship and the reciprocal negotiations of respect and recognition.

normal work is supported by the female-artist-program of the Berlin ministry of education and the arts and is part of the nationwide filmfestival »work in progress«, a project of »Freunde der Deutschen Kinemathek e.V.«, sponsored by the program »work in future« of the »Kulturstiftung des Bundes« ( ).