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Culture

A Force to Be Reckoned With: Dragging us into the 21st Century

Old Drag Queens never die; they just go into social housing and live off welfare handouts, and shoplift.

Council House Movie Star is the up-coming screen and gallery debut of Gale Force, the drag persona of contemporary dance maker, performer and writer Mark Edward. This is Edward’s collaboration with award-winning filmmaker Rosa Fong (British Film Institute New Director’s award, Arts Council Black Arts Award and as Associate Producer: Best Feature at the Outfest Fusion Festival LA 2006, 2nd Prize Audience Award at Madrid International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival 2006 for feature film Cut Sleeve Boys) and award-winner Dr Mark Fremaux.

Gale Force’s plans are to be represented in all her glory in 3D and HD. She is nothing if not up-to-date; the original inspiration (in her own words) of the North of England ‘WAG’ culture, beloved of the British tabloids. Victoria Beckham had better watch out. Council House Movie Star will be premiered in Liverpool in 2012 and after that enjoy a national tour of galleries, cinemas, clubs – any venue that will have it if truth be told! Gale ain’t fussy! She will also provide interventionist and guerrilla art pieces (she can be very high-brow!) wherever they are needed. These will be documented and then reborn in major art galleries in Liverpool and Manchester as recreations of Gale’s multi-faceted, colourful life and encounters with her public. Move aside Tracey Emin and your ‘[Unmade] Bed’ (1998)! Gale’s installation will recreate her entire bed-sit apartment (beat that!) as well as her uninsured bling and her family relationships, as a single mum on welfare – with her kids and her ‘Anti’ Christy. If you’re really lucky Gale will appear in person at the gallery.

Gale Force was born out of Edward’s frustration with the dance world and its entrenched conventionality. She might be described as a traditional drag act, although the concept of her hijacking public spaces is what removes her from the accustomed drag performance arena and onto the streets in guerrilla based live performance where she rips down the canvas of tradition with her playfulness and scathing witticisms. She encourages street interaction and participation through a 3D lens coupled with liveness, and by taking dance, performance and hyper feminine drag culture into unconventional spaces, she engenders a broader and more ‘real’ community that Edward feels is necessary for fuelling and feeding his passion for a richer, organic, inclusive and diverse public output. Council House Movie Star (funded by a research grant from Edge Hill University, UK, and private income) will draw viewers into the poignant absurdities and eccentricities of Gale’s life, providing real moments of fun underscored with a sense of sadness and loss, and therefore highlight those features of their own lives that can be associated with her as a figure that exists on the borders of culture. The work invites us to enter the past, to reflect on a world that is passing and has passed.

The gallery installation will be a visually rich and multi-faceted provocative documentation of the guerrilla performances and will consist of, as well as Gale’s bedroom, studio photography; candid street photography; portraiture (including work by yours truly, PopMatters own Gabrielle Malcolm), and large 9ft fine art paintings of Gale; video capture; durational installation film, and life-size drag queen dolls. The installation is constructed to illuminate and interrogate the illusion of gender, drag culture, heteronormativity and as with the guerrilla interventions includes unscripted interactions between the Straight and the ‘other’. It will further explore the hyper-reality of 3D viewership, pushing the boundaries of an embodied narrative experience.

You have been warned. 2012 is her year, the London Olympics can just bugger off!

Some four minutes in...

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