When I watch a movie that costs ten dollars or when I watch a movie that costs a hundred million dollars, I am looking for roots. Are the pictures we are seeing coming out of roots, do the pictures have roots? As we know from the government, from the corporate news, pictures are often used to hide, to disguise something. It seems like the picture is showing you something, for instance, in the famous pictures of 9-11, but actually the pictures are a smoke screen. But when pictures have roots then we are able to see clearly.
In George Kuchar’s I, An Actress I can feel that something is living. Someone is living and the camera is living, and the two come together, they kiss each other, and then the cinema arrives. The content is important, but before the content I’m interested in the frame, what kind of frame are we seeing in. There is a camera and it never stops rolling, in other words, we are in what used to be called “real time.” Even my mistakes are perfect. And we are watching a woman deliver a melodramatic monologue about fidelity, about cheating. But she’s finding it hard to be faithful to the text she’s dishing, because the director has his own ideas. In fact, the director is gay, he’s busy putting words in her mouth – and isn’t this what movies are – putting words into someone else’s mouth? It’s about projection isn’t it, the art of projection? The artist, George Kuchar, is acting outrageously, as if the whole dramatic enterprise, the whole idea of being a man and being a woman, were just parts we are playing. Oh OK, so for this scene why don’t you be the man and I’ll be the woman.
Tell me, who is the I, in the movie’s title I, an Actress. Is it the director? Is it the actress? Is it you or me? Kuchar suggests that we’re all playing roles, but it’s hard to stay faithful to our roles, let’s try that again from a different angle, a different inflection of the voice. What does it mean to be faithful to your mask, to your costume, to your whole put on made up carnival of a self that you’re supposed to swear allegiance to every morning. Is gender the first fiction, the first story, the first fairytale they made you believe in? Do you have all the accessories you need, have you learned all the lines, the behavioural tics you’ll need so that you can pass as a member of your gender? Are you actually part of the gender police, hey you, cut that shit out, be a man. The way you’re sitting in the chair right now, in this room, in this moment, are you successfully performing your gender?
It made me wonder whether we could perform our gender together. Could we try an experiment. I’d like everyone in the room to imagine that you are a woman. I know I know it’s hard, especially if you were born that way. How does the line go in the movie? When I cheat it’s not for sex. Could everybody say that with me? I’d like you to be a woman and say this line out loud, on three, everyone together, the line is: When I cheat it’s not for sex. OK, 1-2-3. OK now can we say it like a man? When I cheat, it’s not for sex.