Have You Ever Seen A Transsexual Before? Film + Videos by Chris E. Vargas

Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 9:00 pm
Anthology Film Archives

32 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003

-Chris E. Vargas in attendance!-

Road Rash, Super8 on video, 6min., 2003
Homotopia (with Eric Stanley), digital video, 26min., 2006
Extraordinary Pregnancies, digital video, 10min., 2010
Have You Ever Seen a Transexual Before?, digital video, 4 min., 2010
Liberaceón, digital video, 16min., 2011
Falling in Love… With Chris and Greg: "Work of Art! Reality TV Special" (with Greg Youmans), digital video, 14min., 2012
ONE for all…, digital video, 7min., 2012
CRY BOY CRY, digital video, 5min., 2012

Dirty Looks is thrilled to host the first-ever survey of work by Chris E. Vargas, a Bay Area artist and activist. Perhaps best known as one half of the web series Falling in Love … with Chris and Greg, a sitcom about a queer odd couple—one liberal, one radical; one transgender, one not—Vargas has produced a body of work that is politically subversive, culturally acute and utterly hysterical. From post-apocalyptic LA bikers to “the first pregnant man,” Liberace to Bronski Beat, these works challenge the homonormative, queering pop culture and rewriting GLBTQ histories.

Beginning with Vargas’s first Super8 film, this program will explore the artist’s penchant for humorous impersonations and socio-political reinterpretations. Homotopia finds Vargas collaborating with Eric Stanley on a narrative short, in which radical queers crash the hypocritical wedding ceremony of a recent tearoom trick. Extraordinary Pregnancies explores the transphobic discourses parlayed through the media firestorm that surrounded the world’s first pregnant man, Thomas Beatie. In the video from which this program takes its title, Vargas enlightens various American landmarks with his trans body, begging of them the question, Have You Ever Seen a Transsexual Before? In both ONE for all... and Liberaceón, the artist portrays historically queer public figures (philanthropist Reed Erickson and showmanship himself, Liberace), rearticulating (rather comically) these icons relationships to queer politics and philosophical standpoints within their respective epochs. And, in the recent episode of Falling In Love... with Chris and Greg Season Two, Chris and Greg compete against fellow artists to create the perfect work of queer failure, inserting themselves in Bravo’s reality TV show, Work of Art. Hint, it does not end well.

Chris E. Vargas is a film and video maker based in Oakland, CA, whose thematic interests include queer radicalism, transgender hirstory, and imperfect role models. He earned his MFA in Art Practice from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011. Since 2008, he has been making, in collaboration with Greg Youmans, the web-based trans/cisgender sitcom Falling In Love...with Chris and Greg. Episodes of the series have screened at numerous film festivals and art venues, including MIX NYC, SF Camerawork, and the Tate Modern. With Eric Stanley, Vargas co-directed the movie Homotopia (2006) and its feature-length sequel Criminal Queers (2012), which have been screened at Palais de Tokyo, LACE, Centre for Contemporary Arts Glasgow, and the New Museum among other venues.