Writer Paul Clinton selects films from the LUX archive that reflect the ambivalence in Lionel Soukaz’s works towards sexual liberation movements and their internal norms. The programme examines how differently these ideas are articulated in a British and American context.
Lionel Soukaz’s IXE (1980) is one of the landmarks of European queer cinema. The year before its making, his film with Guy Hocquenghem, Race d’Ep (1979) – showing a century of representations of gay identity – was censored by the French government and classified as pornographic. The ensuing outrage would lead to an open letter in defence of Soukaz, signed by Roland Barthes, Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Marguerite Duras, Simone de Beauvior and others.
The filmmaker’s response was to make a film that would deliberately court both the censor and political conservatives worst nightmares and fears about LGBTQ culture: explicit and abject images of bodies and scenes of drug taking and gender insubordination. Alongside these scenes, Soukaz presents found footage depicting religious dogma, war and misogyny, that amount to a searing indictment of the very society that rejects queer life and love as obscene. Furiously composed yet full of irony, IXE is a knowing act of self-destruction, an attempt to make a film that, at the time, could not be shown. Made at the start of the 1980s, before the onset of the AIDS crisis and the slow response of various governments to the communities most affected, the film’s prediction of the decade’s imminent conservatism seems particularly prescient today.
This film will be screened alongside works from the LUX collection that expand on the themes of pornography, mourning, the eroticisation of negativity and queer uses of irony.
Works from the LUX collection:
Razorhead Tom Chomont (1984, 4 mins)
Decodings Michael Wallin (1988, 16 mins)
Popular Thought Teri Yarbrow (1989, 6 mins)
Censored: The Business of Frightened Desires Vera Frenkel (1987, 25mins)
Total programme running time 93 minutes including IXE dir. Lionel Soukaz (1980, 42 mins)
Militant Desire: Lionel Soukaz and Sexual Liberation Today is curated by Paul Clinton, co-produced by Gasworks, London. This series has been funded by Fluxus Art Projects.