Bruce LaBruce: Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses
Opening: Saturday, July 16th (6-9pm)
Dates: July 16 – August 13, 2005
Where: Peres Projects 969 Chung King Road Los Angeles, CA 90012
Peres Projects is very pleased to present “Heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses,” an exhibition of new works by Canadian artist Bruce LaBruce, opening July 16th and running through August 13th, 2005. For his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, LaBruce will be presenting a series of 20 new photographs from his film, “The Raspberry Reich” (2004). LaBruce will present the film stills mounted directly on the gallery walls, which will be completely covered with large-scale photographic prints of images of revolutionary leaders from such groups as the Black Panthers and the Red Army Faction (“RAF”).
“The Raspberry Reich” is an agit-porn movie about modern leftist Germans adopting the culture and politics of the extreme left wing movements of the 1970s. The leader of the Raspberry Reich, Gudrun, who has patterned herself after Gudrun Ensslin, one of the main members of the Baader-Meinhoff Gang (the Red Army Faction), spends her time indoctrinating vital, athletic young men to her cause. A strict devotee of Wilhelm Reich, she believes that heterosexual monogamy is a bourgeois construct that must be smashed in order to achieve true revolution. To that end, she forces her straight male followers to have sex with each other to prove their mettle as authentic revolutionaries. A porno-political-palooza.
On the opening night only (July 16th), LaBruce will also be doing an hour long performance, photographing a male subject – a porn actor, who has been tortured and beaten, by masked, gun carrying terrorists. Audience members will have the choice of being photographed by LaBruce, either as a terrorist or victim, following the performance. This part of the exhibition is open to adults only, who are at least 18 years of age.
LaBruce is an internationally renowned filmmaker, writer, and photographer. His films have been featured in major international film festivals throughout the world. His writing and photographs have been published in numerous international publications and he has produced 2 books, “The Reluctant Pornographer” (Gutter Press), his premature memoirs, and “Ride, Queer, Ride” (Plug-In Books), a survey of his work. Labruce’s photographic works have been presented in solo and group exhibitions in galleries in Toronto, Milan, New York, San Francisco, and London.
Currently, his work is included in “Likeness, Portraits of Artists by Other Artists,” curated by Matthew Higgs, which opened at CCA Wattis Institute of Contemporary Arts, San Francisco in 2004, and has traveled to the McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada; University Art Museum, California State University at Long Beach; and, Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta College of Art & Design, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “The Raspberry Reich” has also been included in “Regarding Terror: The RAF Exhibition,” curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Ellen Blumenstein, and Felix Ensslin art the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany.
For further information on this exhibition, please contact Sarah Walzer at Sarah@PeresProjects.com.
by Bruce LaBruce
I have been touring the world with my latest feature film, The Raspberry Reich for the past year and a half. The film combines the genres of pornography and agit-prop film. These kinds of polemical and highly politicized films were produced in the heyday of leftist activism in the late sixties and seventies. The Raspberry Reich references such films as Fassbinder’s The Third Generation, Godard’s La Chinoise, and Dusav Makavejev’s WR: Mysteries of the Organism, and psychoanalytic writers such as Herbert Marcuse and Wilhelm Reich, all re-imagined within a pornographic context. The result is an experimental mixture of sexuality and politics, described by one critic as a “pornopoliticalpalooza”.
One of my main motivations for making The Raspberry Reich was that the left in North America seemed to be silenced after the events of September 11th. I wanted to reintroduce into public discourse the kind of leftist political vocabulary once common in our society. Due to the shift to the right of centre in global politics, leftist discourse is regarded as extreme or even heretical. I countered these current tendencies through the bombarding of the audience with the slogans of the radical left which arose from the anti-Vietnam War and student activist era. The film combines this rhetorical onslaught with sexually explicit imagery in order to reinforce the idea that the sexual revolution was integral to the countercultural movement.
The plot of The Raspberry Reich portrays the abduction of the son of a wealthy German industrialist by a group of inept, would-be terrorists who patterned themselves after the RAF. The depiction of the infamous seventies terrorist group for the film was designed to reference both the historical and social realities of the period. The characters in Raspberry Reich also redefine this era’s conventions of pornography in order to achieve a political/historical/sexual hybrid.
The instigator of the sexual revolution in The Raspberry Reich is Gudrun, the leader of the terrorist group who believes that “heterosexuality is the opiate of the masses”, that heterosexual monogamy is a bourgeois construct that needs to be smashed in order to achieve true revolution. She convinces her young heterosexual male acolytes to have sex with each other in order to prove their revolutionary zeal, promoting the ideals of the sexual revolution and the radical left.
The film also acts as a critique of the left, particularly in its tendency to not practice what it preaches via unrealistic and dogmatic political rhetoric. The film is an examination of the phenomenon of “terrorist chic”, depicting how the signifiers of radicalism are now packaged and sold by capitalist culture as a way of neutralizing and rendering ineffectual any sort of viable, sincere revolutionary impetus.
After traveling globally with this film – it was shown at such far-flung international festivals as Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Guadalajara, etc. – I came to realize that there is a real hunger for work which treats sexually explicit material in a more sophisticated and aesthetic or personal way, and which recognizes, as Godard pointed out, that the sexual is also political.