Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Queer Artist Centerfold: Catherine Burriss

Catherine Scott Burriss

Stage Name:
None; the world’s a stage!

Contact info:

Birthplace: Northern California

Zodiac sign: cuspy Virgo

Your medium/genre:
Performance art, academic writing and professing

Describe what you do:
I am an artist, scholar, and teacher.

Turn on’s:
Open minds
Deconstruction that creates something new Selflessness in the name of justice
Satire of the power-hungry
Accurate citation of well-designed research

Turn off’s:
Closed minds
Dull imaginations
Satire of the power-starved
Willful ignorance

Pet peeves: People with pet peeves

Fave sex idol:
It’s a toss up between Pele (the Hawaiian goddess of fire), Janeane Garofalo, Angelina Jolie, and David Bowie.

1ST crush: I’m going to plead the fifth on this one.

Fave music:
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, David Bowie, Prince, ani difranco, Jack Johnson

Top movies that inspire you:
The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert, Strictly Ballroom, Delicatessen, Celestial Clockwork (Mécaniques célestes), and… Ugh. I don’t think I’ve been inspired by any recent movies!

Fave quote:
“There is a vitality, a life force, and an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, or how valuable, or how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly. . . .To keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”
–Martha Graham

Reading List:
Anything and everything by Judith Butler, David Román, Caryl Churchill, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, Aphra Behn, and William Shakespeare

One of your obsessions:
Figuring out new recipes using the amazing organic dried cherries from the local Farmer’s Market.

Tim Miller, Denise Uyehara, Danny Scheie, Split Britches (Lois Weaver and Peggy Shaw), Norma Bowles, Paula Vogel, Anne Bogart

Fave queer Artist(s):
See influences/mentors/heroes above.

Fave queer from history:
Christopher Marlowe

Fave performance experience:
All the female college students gasping in disbelief when I cut my (then very long) hair off during a performance of Preventative Measures at CSU Channel Islands.

Places performed:
UC Santa Cruz, New Langton Arts in San Francisco, UC Berkeley, CSU Channel Islands, Queer Mondays at Highways Performance Space

UC Santa Cruz:
BA in Theatre Arts with a minor in Italian Comparative Literature
Graduate Certificate in Drama

UC Berkeley:
Ph.D. in Performance Studies with a designated emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality

What do you (does your art) stand for:
I think art, especially performance, is a vital way to keep questioning society and keep society questioning. Asking tough questions of ourselves and each other keeps us moving forward as individuals and as societies.

Fave prop or costume:
Probably a big black and white golf umbrella, although I’m really getting into the red satin rope I’m working with right now…

Thoughts on the LA queer art scene:
I’m so gay for Queer Mondays at Highways! Ian MacKinnon has created a beautiful and welcoming and necessary place to foment new queer performance. It feels like family to me.

What is your Vision for the Queer Future:
A Queer majority takes over all major societies. Even straight people take pride in being Queer in some way, and it is considered uncivilized and destructive to society to expect individuals to meet some group standard just for the sake of conformity. Intellectual agility becomes such a hot new trend that it sticks for good and becomes woven into the fabric of society.

What do you see as the future for queer art:
Pomo performance brings the “real” back to reality TV as audiences simultaneously begin to crave live human interaction and having their assumptions questioned en masse.

What are your upcoming events:
I’m thrilled to be debuting my new piece, WHAT COMES NATURALLY, this Saturday, August 6 as part of Highways Behold!: a Queer Performance Festival!

One show only: 8:30pm August 6, 2011
at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica
Featuring opening act
TIM MILLER (with a short performance)
Conceived, written, and performed by
Video created by
Directed by
What Comes Naturally negotiates the fraught intersection of the personal and the political, grappling with queer marriage and queer birth when majority rule is tyrannizing one and malpractice rules are traumatizing the other. Drawing from her own experiences and focusing on moments of finding—or failing to find—the fierceness needed to stand up to bigotry and ignorance, Catherine Scott Burriss explores the humor and heartbreak that emerge when our tender private loves and lives collide with the inertial weight of public institutions and get swept up in the current of national debate.

What Comes Naturally debuts as part of
BEHOLD! - A Queer Performance Festival
2 months of new LGBTQ performance, dance, spoken word, theater, multi-media, and ritual!
For complete info, scheduling updates, and festival additions, visit www.highwaysperformance.org
All performances $20 general admission ($15 members/students/seniors), unless otherwise indicated. A festival pass, which admits you to all events, is $75.

Sample of Work:
Lots of pics of my new and old performances at http://www.wiseacreswest.com/index.html