Adventures in Cross-Casting, Brasilia
A collaboration with CENA Contemporanea and the Embassy of the Netherlands
Concept letter to potential subjects of Diana Blok’s photography project written by Dragan Klaic, Amsterdam, July 15, 1996
Adventures in Cross- Casting is an exhibition planned for the new museum space of the Theater Institute in Amsterdam ( 1997). The concept was developed by the well-known photographer Diana Blok who has often photographed theater people and whose work is characterized by a strong feeling for sensuality and intimacy.
For the Theater Institute Netherlands she will make 40 large portraits of personalities from the Dutch performing arts, photographing people of different disciplines, professions, generations, those who appear on stage and those who work back stage. Potential subjects will be approached with the question which role originally conceived for the opposite sex you would like to impersonate. Those who accept to pose would impersonate their fantasy in the studio with the help of props and attributes from our large historical collection which the staff members of the institute will help find and select.
Portraits will be accompanied by concise texts describing the role as it was originally conceived and containing a statement of the subject about the role’s attractiveness for him/her. The rational for this project is that theater has a long history of cross dressing and gender impersonation, reaching as far as the ancient Greek stage. Even today the stage remains a special zone where the probing of sexual identity and the reconsideration of gender boundaries becomes the very essence of a historic act.
In this project, Diana Blok intends to explore how individuals with a history of creating theatrical illusions, relate to their own intimate role-playing fantasies, crossing gender boundaries and finding ways to display them for the public viewing. The viewer will explore a well-known face, recognizable under the assumed fictitious identity and explore an unknown face in a known role.
The exhibition will be in Theater Institute Netherlands from June to December 1997, and afterwards will be made available to travel throughout the country to be on display in different locations, primarily theater venues. Because of its theatrical theme and approach, and a broad coverage of the disciplines and professions, TIN plans to program this exhibit in the frame of its large presentations of the contemporary Dutch performing art abroad, such as those that recently took place in Lyon, Montreal or Stuttgart and soon in St. Petersburg.
I could imagine that this letter takes you a bit by surprise but also sincerely hope that you accept to take part in this project and pose for Diana Blok, impersonating your own intimate fantasy, investing your own stage experience.
We expect that your collaboration would demand one or two preliminary talks with the photographer and then up to four hours in the studio for the posing.
I thank you very much for your consideration of this project and and hope you will be willing to collaborate.
With best regards and wishes for a pleasant summer,