In 2011, the New Museum presented “We Remember Stories, Not Facts,” a series of contextualizing and investigative programs conceived in collaboration with Wu Tsang as part of the artist’s residency at the Museum. Each program was designed to illuminate and expand upon various aspects of Tsang’s new film and performance project Full Body Quotation (FBQ).
The last of the three public programs of “We Remember Stories, Not Facts,” the screening of Hail the New Puritan offered spaces for discussion on alternative narratives in documentary filmmaking.
Exuberant and witty, Hail the New Puritan is a simulated day-in-the-life “docufantasy” starring the British dance celebrity Michael Clark directed by Charles Atlas. Atlas’s fictive portrait of the charismatic choreographer serves as a vivid invocation of the studied decadence of the 1980s post-punk London subculture. Contriving a faux cinéma vérité format in which to stage his stylized fiction, Atlas seamlessly integrates Clark’s extraordinary dance performances into the docu-narrative flow. Focusing on Clark’s flamboyantly postured eroticism and the artifice of his provocative balletic performances, Atlas posits the dance as a physical manifestation of Clark’s psychology. From the surreal opening dream sequence to the final solo dance, Clark’s milieu of fashion, clubs, and music signifies for Atlas “a time capsule of a certain period and context in London that’s now gone.”
Following the screening, documentary artist Matt Wolf joined Charles Atlas in a conversation that explored new possibilities of narrative expression in documentary filmmaking.
“We Remember Stories, Not Facts” was presented as part of the New Museum’s RE:NEW RE:PLAY performance residency series and the Museum as Hub curatorial platform.