Gloria was a performance revue and installation conceived and performed by Chez Deep at Santos Party House , New York on March 18, 2015 by members Sam Banks, Alexis Penney, Colin Self and Bailey Stiles with narration by Linda Simpson as the ‘Voice of God’.
Alexis Penney has written a short text below exploring some of the influences behind Gloria, accompanied by individual performances from each member and you can watch the show in full here.
Alexis Blair Penney
“Gloria represented a return or circling back to form as much as a new step for the collective. Our first show as Chez Deep was conceived for performance at Santos in 2012 and lead to a residency of sorts through the ensuing years in collaboration with venue co-owner and artist Spencer Sweeney. Our last performance at Santos – which was Dea Nova – had been six months prior and included the original Chez Deep lineup [which included Hari Nef], as well as a slurry of friends, new and old. So when Spencer asked us to return it felt like we could strip it back to just the basics and reaffirm the structure of many of the performances we had conceived together but with a different dynamic as four rather than five.”
“Many issues were surfacing at that time within social media contexts – police brutality and institutionalised white supremacy, murder and mass incarceration, the devaluation, degradation and violence faced by femme and trans people and bodies. American denial and unaccountability for illegal detentions at Guantanamo Bay and abroad, and mass civilian casualties from drone strikes. These things kept bringing our initial conversations surrounding the piece back to the idea of violence. Gloria, as an eponymous concept, spoke to the glorification of violence within our culture and the sometimes brutal means by which empowerment seemed only able to be won within the framework of a culture founded on slavery, rape and subjugation.”
“Environmental issues form the backdrop of all of our conversations and the persistent question of trash collection in our technically illegal commercial loft space presented itself as a consistent excess of plastic shopping bags. They were fluttering in trees, piling up under the sink, moulding in corners filled with sweaty yoga clothes (lol). We decided to let plastic be the actual backdrop for the piece, as well as part of the costuming.”
“The performance was presented in keeping with the way a traditional drag show often represents a narrative stitched together like a collaborative mixtape, where several performers choose several songs from different artists each, with their own micro-arcs within a broader story. We decided to stitch together personal narratives from each of our lives with lyrics and quotations relevant to the material and cast Linda [Simpson] – who has hosted all of our shows at Santos and many others to date – as our omniscient over mind, as a drag show emcee often is anyway. Thus, Gloria.”
Gloria was filmed live on location at Santos Party House, New York by cinematographer Daniel Rampulla with Tyler Mariano on second camera, with DJ support from Brother Bruno Coviello and lighting from the Santos staff.
Art and economics is central to the Money Makes the World Go ‘Round series –exploring art and artists in a global market in collaboration with Video in Common –to publish every fortnight from the last day of March to July, 2015. It features artists and collectives from cities around the networked world. **
Watch the performances embedded above or see the accompanying editorial videos starting here for Part One.
This project has been made possible through the generous support of Arts Council England.