Folie à Deux explores the melodramatic partnership of madness & queerness in drag & transgender performance in two films. Bernstein and Rubin re-vamp Madame de Sade as adame de Void–the vanity of the void in waiting. Trapped between de Sade's 120 Days of Sodom & de Void's 101 Dogs of Gomorrah and unable to endure waiting on the stage long enough to convert waiting into weight—they hang off the ledge of compulsory ridiculous hysterical critique.
I. Madame de Void: A Melodrama (43 min.)
A narrative telling of fashion designer Madame de Void's unexpected love for her pup, Blot, as she grooms him for fur. Bernstein plays Madame & Rubin plays Blot.
II. Folie à Deux: A Duodrama (1 hr. 57 min.)
An audio-play that features Blot (Rubin) & Madame (Bernstein) in a dialectical tangle with harp, percussion, & piano. Featuring the voices & instruments of Jim Fletcher, Ken Jacobs, Black-Eyed Susan, Jill Kroesen, Richard Foreman, Amy Sillman, Michael Evans, & David Grubbs.
Theatre precedes essence but essence is always in transit. In the 19th century genre, genus, and gender transitioned from the monodrama (one voice) of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's 1770 scène lyrique Pygmalion (recitative dialogue with music as intermittent illustration) to the modern form of melodrama (continuous music and sentiment in synchronous motion), which yoked pantomime, dialogue, and action-music. By the end of the 20th century ridiculous and kinetic theatres had exploded melodrama into indeterminate, de-skilled bits. Our impossible folly is an ode to incongruent forms—early duodrama, late melodrama, and poetic anti-theatre.
Felix Bernstein and Gabe Rubin have presented film, music, and theatre at MOCA Los Angeles, Issue Project Room, Anthology Film Archives, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. At the Whitney, they staged and performed Bernstein's libretto Bieber Bathos Elegy in 2016 and Mayo Thompson's Victorine (with Art & Language) for the 2012 Whitney Biennial.
Also at the Whitney, Rubin performed in Jill Kroesen's Collecting Injustices and Bernstein in Andrew Lampert's Synonym for Untitled. Bernstein is the author of the poetry collection, Burn Book (Nightboat), and a book of essays, Notes on Post-Conceptual Poetry (Insert Blanc Press). His writing has been featured in Art in America, Poetry Magazine, Spike Arts Magazine, Bomb, Bookforum and Texte Zur Kunst. Rubin's films have been screened at the Brooklyn Film Festival, MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival. He performed in Shelley Hirsch's Book-Bark-Tree-Line for Blank Forms in 2017 and was recently featured in Soraya Zaman's trans-masculine photo series, 'American Boys' (Daylight Books).
Press release courtesy Pilar Corrias.