How to be a Homosexual, parts 1 & 2

Saturday, March 28, 2015, 8:30 pm
P•P•O•W Gallery

535 West 22nd Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011

Roger Jacoby, Dream Sphinx Opera, 16mm, 8 minutes, 1974
How to Be a Homosexual, Part I, 16mm, 35 minutes, 1980
How to Be a Homosexual, Part II, 16mm, 15 minutes, 1982

Dirty Looks NYC presents a program devoted to Roger Jacoby (1944-1985), known for his gorgeous, hand-processed experimental films. Followed by a discussion with filmmakers Jim Hubbard and Jerry Tartaglia.

Roger Jacoby (1944-1985) began hand-processing films in his bathtub in the early 1970s—films marked by dramatic and gorgeous color, patterning, and texture. Sarah Schulman writes, “Roger was a transitional figure in the history of gay experimental film, bridging from filmmakers who preceded gay liberation, like Kenneth Anger, Broughton, Warhol, George Kuchar, Gregory Markopoulos, and others, to younger makers … whose entire worldview was forged by gay liberation.” His early films do not deal directly with gay identity but parody and criticize heterosexuality, as in Dream Sphinx Opera, which features his then lover and collaborator, Warhol superstar Ondine, frolicking with Sally Dixon in an edenic Victorian garden. Following his relationship with Ondine, Jacoby would advance his experiments with filmmaking and processing in partnership with Jim Hubbard. Jacoby died at the age of forty-one, early into the AIDS epidemic. Weaving together diary footage he began filming in 1979, his final films, the ironically titled How to Be a Homosexual, Part I and Part II mark a significant shift in his filmmaking, as Jacoby turns the camera increasingly on himself.

For this one night screening Dirty Looks brings together Hubbard and filmmaker and archivist Jerry Tartaglia to talk about Jacoby and his work, and to ponder with the audience the current state of the avant-garde and whether or not anyone knows how to be a homosexual anymore.

“Roger Jacoby died November 19, 1985 at the age of 41. Originally a painter, he began making experimental film in New York City in the 1970s. For both aesthetic and financial reasons he began to process his own film footage in the bathtub of his darkened bathroom. After receiving an NEA grant in 1974 he was able to buy a simple processing machine. By maintaining control of the processing, and by using an ‘outdated’ Auricon camera, Jacoby was able to weave texture, color and sound in a highly dramatic way. Many of his films contain the sounds of opera, images of family and often feature his lover of many years, Warhol superstar Ondine.

“On a personal note: My brother, Roger, was the most remarkable person I have ever known. He could turn the mundane into a roller-coaster adventure. His eye for beauty, truth and absurdity brought an unparalleled excitement to my life. Through him I learned about film, met fascinating people, felt glamorous, developed an aesthetic. His films are a testament to his complexity, sincerity, and sense of humor. A wonderful and loyal buddy—I miss him a lot.” — Susan Schiller

Jim Hubbard has been making films since 1974. Recently, he completed United in Anger: A History of ACT UP (2012), a feature-length documentary on the AIDS activist group. He is the cofounder, with Sarah Schulman, of MIX:NYC Queer Experimental Film and Video Festival, as well as the ACT UP Oral History Project. Interviews from the ACT UP Oral History Project have shown at the Carpenter Center for the Arts, Harvard University, and at White Columns. He also created, along with James Wentzy, a nine-part cable television series based on the project. Under the auspices of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, he created the AIDS Activist Video Collection at the New York Public Library. His work as an experimental filmmaker includes Elegy in the Streets (1989), Two Marches (1991), The Dance (1992), and Memento Mori (1995). His films have shown at The Museum of Modern Art, The Berlin Film Festival, the London Film Festival, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and the New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, Torino, and many other LGBT Film Festivals.

Jerry Tartaglia is a filmmaker, film archivist and restorer, and writer, whose work in experimental film and queer cinema spans four decades. He cofounded Berks Filmmakers, one of the longest surviving microcinema showcases for experimental media art in the US. In the 1970s he produced his now lost feature film, Lawless, with Warhol superstar Ondine, and assisted Tony Conrad in the manufacture and production of the Yellow Movie series. His cinema is an ongoing examination of identity and media politics through the moving image. The AIDS Trilogy (A.I.D.S.C.R.E.A.M., Ecce Homo, and Final Solutions) made during the early days of the epidemic in America, has been screened around the world. In 1991 he was one of twelve artists who created the Red Ribbon as a symbol of AIDS awareness through the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, paving the way for awareness ribbons of all kinds. Since the early 1990s, he has worked restoring and preserving the film legacy of Jack Smith, for the Smith Estate and the Barbara Gladstone Gallery. He teaches Cinema, Writing, and Media Production and lives in a stone barn in Eastern Pennsylvania.