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Video: Cheapcream at the NYC Vogue Ball

by assume vivid astro focus on 27 July 2005

The 2005 NYC Vogue Ball is captured as part of the cheapcream series. The 'Butch Queen Realness' of assume vivid astro focus' Tate Liverpool title refers specifically to the categories that exist as part of the competitive, celebratory vogue ball culture. Rooted in a New York scene that has been at times celebrated and at times remained a dissident and subversive voice out of the spotlight. It was given a well-documented airing by Jenny Livingstone's insightful 1987 documentary film, Paris is Burning, and popularised (some would argue consumed) by Madonna's song and video 'Vogue' from the early 1990s. Harlem drag balls of the 1920s and '30s, the ballroom scene of the 1970s, and the vogue balls of the 1980s are all stages in the powerful legacy of this world, and these competitive performances continue very much into the present. avaf captured footage of a night at Clubhouse NYC, which hosts many contemporary vogueing balls. Performers from various houses -the kinship networks of various sexes and genders- have each established complex gender norms which are displayed through their routines. Self-declared Butch Queens, Femme Queens and Butch Queens Up in Drag, Butches and Women perform in family networks and compete in categories such as 'Realness', and 'Vogue Femme Performance'. Such categories have evolved as each decades' prevailing cultures that they subvert, respect, emulate and create, change. Frank Leon Roberts Paris is Still Burning: Ballroom Culture 101 gives the best at-hand description of the categories avaf was watching in these clips.

The 2005 NYC Vogue Ball is captured as part of the cheapcream series. The 'Butch Queen Realness' of assume vivid astro focus' Tate Liverpool title refers specifically to the categories that exist as part of the competitive, celebratory vogue ball culture. Rooted in a New York scene that has been at times celebrated and at times remained a dissident and subversive voice out of the spotlight. It was given a well-documented airing by Jenny Livingstone's insightful 1987 documentary film, Paris is Burning, and popularised (some would argue consumed) by Madonna's song and video 'Vogue' from the early 1990s. Harlem drag balls of the 1920s and '30s, the ballroom scene of the 1970s, and the vogue balls of the 1980s are all stages in the powerful legacy of this world, and these competitive performances continue very much into the present. avaf captured footage of a night at Clubhouse NYC, which hosts many contemporary vogueing balls. Performers from various houses -the kinship networks of various sexes and genders- have each established complex gender norms which are displayed through their routines. Self-declared Butch Queens, Femme Queens and Butch Queens Up in Drag, Butches and Women perform in family networks and compete in categories such as 'Realness', and 'Vogue Femme Performance'. Such categories have evolved as each decades' prevailing cultures that they subvert, respect, emulate and create, change. Frank Leon Roberts Paris is Still Burning: Ballroom Culture 101 gives the best at-hand description of the categories avaf was watching in these clips.

cheapcream is a guest-edited series of video clips captured and collated by the artist assume vivid astro focus (avaf). It is made up of short pieces of footage shot at a variety of performances in many venues worldwide over the last year or so. Each captured by avaf, the footage covers drag acts, artists' performances in galleries, bands playing events and documentation of some of his own work. The clips are an ongoing record of others' performances, and the series offers insight into the world of an avid observer and collector of such. cheapcream also represents access into the ideas that inform or might become assumed by such a practice as avaf’s, and an invitation to be engaged in this ongoing work in progress.

avaf is an artist moniker that is used in the spirit of an inclusive, often collaborative, artistic practice. avaf operates as part of the legacy of artists such as Canadian collective General Idea who have consistently worked across a variety of media to communicate political ideas about queer identity and politics. cheapcream comprises a selection of avaf's ever-growing personal film archive, presented as a resource that is there to be shared. As part of his larger practice and part of a research process–a distinction avaf doesn't make–it is an enthusiastic sharing of what he considers public material.

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