Originally a three-screen installation, Barflies offers representations of different femininities embodied by transvestites and cross-dressers, the pleasures, fears and dangers of being in public ‘en femme’ and the relationship they have with the heterosexual male.
The different styles of Maureen, Claire and Jasmine signify some of the variations found within feminine identities in the transvestite/cross-dressing communities. Barflies also highlights the specificity of TV/cross-dressers in relation to public, social spaces. Many women ‘born female’ do not feel comfortable alone in bars because of the threat of unwanted attention from heterosexual men. Being out in a social space such as a bar for most TV/cross-dressers is often celebrated as a triumph, where a mixture of fear and delight may be experienced through a public expression of one’s female self.
Recorded on telephone chat-lines, the soundtrack offers an intimate undercurrent to the unedited footage. Transvestites, transsexuals, cross-dressers and their seekers engage in conversations which interlace the private, confessional and sexual.
Barflies has been screened at Site Gallery (Sheffield, 2002), Tate Modern (London, 2006) and was screened most recently for LADA’s Just Like A Woman programme for the City of Women Festival (Slovenia, 2013).
George Chakravarthi’s artistic practice spans over a decade of live performance, video installation and photography. Predominantly engaging with the politics of identity and representations of the self, the works often cross and renegotiate the restrictions of space, culture and heritage.
A limited edition print derived from Barflies (2002) is available to buy on Unbound.
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