“Sleeping With the Devil,” 1988. USA. Directed by Reza Abdoh
“Reza Abdoh: Showtapes and Short Films” is the second of three film screenings presented by Bidoun in conjunction with Publishing As Practice. Bidoun—whose work as a nonprofit and former print magazine focuses on art and culture from the Middle East and its diasporas—is Ulises’s third publisher resident as part of Publishing As Practice. As part of their programming, Bidoun has organized a selection of video excerpts and short films by Iranian-American multimedia artist, Reza Abdoh.
With his beginnings in experimental theater, Abdoh later took to film and video art, incorporating the same raw energy and subversive imagery that propelled his notoriety as a playwright and director. The fiery intensity of his productions erupts from the erratic choreography and impassioned performances of his casts, fused with his volatile cuts and crude layering of popular culture and iconoclasm. Abdoh sourced and spliced a miscellany of visual motifs, ranging from TV and BDSM to American patriotism and advertisements. His maximalist aesthetic strikes with fervor, weaponizing the anger and alienation experienced by those affected by systemic racism and the AIDS crisis in the United States.
Compiled by his collaborator Adam Soch, the “showtapes” present segments of Abdoh’s most known theater productions, Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice, Bogeyman, The Law of Remains, and Tight White Right (1990–93). As the first video work made by Abdoh following his own HIV diagnosis, Sleeping with the Devil (1988) stitches together screen tests of a multilingual recount of reporter Geraldo Rivera’s interview with cult leader Charles Manson, and probes the potential for empathy through the inflection and delivery of the actors; while Daddy’s Girl (1991) is a lewd and twisted testimony of sexual abuse and violent revenge. The Tryst (1995), a portion of Abdoh’s unfinished second feature, closes the program with the sole footage that was edited by Abdoh before his death and later shown at his memorial, offering a glimpse into a film career tragically cut short.
Program approx. 60 min.
Video from the productions The Hip-Hop Waltz of Eurydice, Bogeyman, The Law of Remains, and Tight White Right. 1990–93. USA. Directed by Reza Abdoh. Video design by Adam Soch. 25 min.
Sleeping with the Devil. 1988. USA. Directed by Reza Abdoh. With Luis Zaldivar, Ken Roht, Michael Whitmore, Anthony Cristian, Paul Durand, Ingrid A., Steve Oglesby. 12 min.
Daddy’s Girl. 1991. USA. Directed by Reza Abdoh. Cinematography by Adam Soch. With Tony Torn, Juliana Francis. 9 min.
The Tryst [excerpt from an unfinished film]. 1995. USA. Directed by Reza Abdoh. Cinematography by Tal Yarden. With Tom Fitzpatrick, Tom Pearl, Tony Torn. 7 min.