Tate Modern Film

Wu Tsang: Wildness The Tanks at Tate Modern

Wu Tsang (USA, born 1982) is an artist, performer and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. This special live screening event features the UK premiere of Tsang’s acclaimed film Wildness (2012), her early video The Shape of a Right Statement (2008), and Breakdown (2013), a new performance by Tsang in collaboration with Kelela and Ashland Mines.

The Shape of a Right Statement

Wu Tsang, USA 2008, HD video, 5 min

Staring directly at the camera, Tsang re-performs one section of ‘In My Language,’ a forceful address by autism rights activist Amanda Baggs. Tsang’s powerful video manifesto was shot at The Silver Platter, home to his club Wildness, following a year in which the artist had presented live performances of the Baggs text. Tsang mimetically reproduces the voice of Baggs’s Speech Generation Device, stating, ‘It is only when I type something in your language that you refer to me as having communication.’

Camera: A.L. Steiner


Wu Tsang, USA 2012, HDCAM, 75 min

Wildness is a portrait of the Silver Platter, a historic bar on the east side of Los Angeles that has catered to the Latin immigrant and queer community since 1963. With a touch of magical-realism, the bar itself becomes a character in the film. Voiced by a transgender actress from Guatemala, it whispers the histories of the LGBT community for whom it has provided sanctuary and a ‘safe space’ for generations.

The film captures the creativity and conflict that ensue when a group of young, queer artists of colour (Wu Tsang, DJs NGUZUNGUZU and Total Freedom) organise a weekly performance party, also called Wildness, at the bar. This emergent underground interfaces with the emigrant transwomen who have long populated the venue and the Silver Platter becomes a charged forum for forging coalitions and exploring class, community and activism.

Wildness received its world premiere at MoMA’s Documentary Fortnight. Wu Tsang’s work has been shown recently in the 2012 Whitney Biennial and New Museum Triennial in New York, the ICA Philadelphia, MOCA Los Angeles and the Gwangju Biennial (South Korea). Tsang is a 2012 Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellow and has received support from the Good Works Foundation, Frameline, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the IFP Documentary Lab, Art Matters, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Writers: Wu Tsang and Roya Rastegar
Producer: Kathy Rivkin
Camera: Michelle Lawler
Editors: Claire Didier and Wu Tsang
Original Music: NGUZUNGUZU, Total Freedom and Robbie Williamson

Tate Modern

London SE1 9TG
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2 February 2013 at 20.00–20.00

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