New communal platforms are needed in order to deconstruct established roles, create new spaces for gathering, sharing and learning from one another. Therein lies Dream Babes’ raison d’être; an ongoing collaborative platform developed between visual artist and female drag performer Victoria Sin and the London-based organization Auto Italia South East.
The London-based Sin aims to deconstruct stereotypes, confuse and challenge the viewer through acts that subvert traditional perceptions of drag queens, where a specific idea of femininity is usually exaggerated and enacted by men. Drag’s political potential can however challenge binary ideas, acting as a subversive and liberating platform for diversity, rather than for the repeated re-enactment of the same models.
Sin, who identifies as cisgender, rejects the idea that men and women have to fulfil specific roles according to their genders. With this mission, this second edition of Dream Babes triggers a set of encounters through a three-evening- program in various formats such as workshops, performances, screenings and dj sets, reaching varied levels of public engagement.
AutoItalia’s space is carefully staged for the occasion, becoming immersive and alienating. Sleek white furniture, fake fur cushions and purple light condition the public’s perception of actions taking place within, adding to their theatricality and extravagance. Affection, sexuality, and intimacy are performed and used as material to engage the public through the performative acts of Special Tears and Evan Ifekoya & Victoria Sin.
Through them, texts on personal experiences and intimate feelings are read off phones, framing intellectual insights with pure emotions. The duo Special Tears, composed of Cassandre Greenberg and Christopher Kirubi, present a conversational piece reciting in turns a set of romantic politics made text. Images of themselves as babies, fakely crying photoshopped tears, are projected on the bench where they sit.
Evan Ifekoya + Victoria Sin, dressed in white suits with mirror-like patches, sit and read from their smartphones, describing some joyful depravation in secret clubs and awkward bodily interactions, questioning the possibility of being cyborg and goddess at the same time, rejecting binary choices. They both alternate speech with musical intercourse and some club-like dancing on a podium, until Sin stands up in a proud pose and starts lip-synching Diana Ross in an astonishing play-back performance.
Enabled through their inclusion, workshops mainly addressed to queer, trans, intersex, and people of color offer a deeper-level engagement, while crystalizing a community. DJ Virginia Wilson shows the basic entails of djing through an express class, supported by her organization Resis’Dance, whereas in Lipstix and Lipsynx Performative Workshop, Raju Raje and Adam Saad encourage participants to acknowledge their secret selves by performing the freedom of self-defining through alternative survival methods.
Dream Babes interlaces performances, workshops, screening-discussions around science fiction author Samuel R. Delany, and a more laid-back, socially interactive scenario with sets by DJs Manara, Spacer Woman (Chook Ly Tan), and Sidney UltraOmni. It acts as a metaphoric house where to feel safe and to perform the real spirit of drag surrounded by peer forces, and ultimately opens up discussions around the possibilities of performing femininity outside the cliché.