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Jack Waters and Peter Cramer SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama (1992)
  • Title: SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama
  • Holdings: photo gallery, video (HIDVL)
  • Duration: 00:36:50
  • Language: English
  • Date: 11 Feb 1992
  • Location: Cooper Union Great Hall, New York, New York, USA
  • Type-Format: performance, film
  • Cast: Performed by Jack Waters, Peter Cramer, Miss Understood, Hedda Lettuce, Mo' Better Lester, and Errol Grimes.
  • Credits: Created by Jack Waters and Peter Cramer; Musical accompaniment by Michael Messinger; Projection coordination by Carl George; Projection assistance by Dirk Hauska; Stage management by Bobby Fultz; Peter Cramer's and Jack Waters' costumes by the Costume Collection; Introduction to performance by Diane Torr.

Jack Waters and Peter Cramer SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama (1992)

Jack Waters and Peter Cramer come of age as artists and gay men in SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama (1992). Waters and Cramer express the personal as political through monologues while using visual and sonic elements to form a pastiche of opera. They reflect upon their personal and creative lives in the 1970s before the AIDS epidemic hit New York City in the 1980s. Waters and Cramer use classical and avant-garde forms to merge the differing aesthetics of the Uptown and Downtown art scenes. Montage is an important element that Waters and Cramer utilize throughout the performance. This culminates most notably with the projection of the artists’ Black and White Study (1990)—an exploration of identity politics surrounding race and sexuality. SPEW can be seen as a reflection of Waters’ and Cramer’s artistic process as partners in art and life.

Jack Waters is a visual artist, filmmaker, writer, choreographer, and performer. Waters' artwork has been included in the exhibitions The Black Male (1995) at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Triple Threat (2008) at FRISE; Not only this, but 'New language beckons us' (2013) at New York University; NOT OVER: 25 Years of Visual AIDS (2013) and Ephemera as Evidence (2014) at La MaMa Galleria. He appeared as the lead character in the critically acclaimed film Jason and Shirley (2015), which was co-written and co-produced with Stephen Winter and Sarah Schulman, and screened at the Museum of Modern Art, British Film Institute, and Anthology Film Archives. Water's films are included as part of the Estate Project for Artists With AIDS and the AIDS Activist Video Collection at the New York Public Library. His personal papers are held at the Fales Library and Special Collections at New York University. Additional materials from his artistic career are housed at the Film-Makers' Cooperative and Allied Productions, Inc. As a journalist he has published articles on politics, cultural affairs, visual arts, film, and media. Waters was a founding contributing writer for Color Life, the news journal for LGBT and two-spirited people of Color, and for LGNY, New York City’s LGBT news bi-weekly.

Peter Cramer is an artist and activist based in the Lower East Side of New York City. Cramer's performances, films, and installations have been featured in alternative spaces, museums, and cultural institutions across the world. His films are available through the Film-Makers' Cooperative, Fales Library and Special Collections, and Allied Productions, Inc. Cramer is an artist+ member of Visual AIDS—an organization that utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving the legacy of the AIDS epidemic. He is the recipient of a NEA InterArts Fellowship and a grant from the US Virgin Islands Council on the Arts. Cramer received the Kathy Acker Award—a tribute given to members of the avant-garde art community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline—established by filmmaker/photographer Clayton Patterson.

As life and art partners, Waters and Cramer have collaborated on a number of projects. Together, they co-created the nonprofit arts organization Allied Productions, Inc., served as directors of the art and activism collective ABC No Rio; and co-founded the community garden Le Petit Versailles. Cramer and Waters were a catalytic force behind the dance and performance collective POOL, which explored contact and improvisation utilizing theater, ritual, and activism. Their work has been written about in Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces, 1960–2010 edited by Lauren Rosati and Mary Anne Staniszewski, and Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Generation by Sarah Schulman. Waters and Cramer are the subjects of an oral history conducted by Art Spaces Archives Project at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Their video/photo installation Pride 2001-We Remember at the New York Public Library Donnell Media Center was featured in a nationwide broadcast of In the Life on PBS. The duo has collaborated on projects with Barbara Hammer, Geoff Hendricks, Sur Rodney (Sur), and Inbred Hybrid Collective. Their work has been featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum, Center for Contemporary Culture Barcelona, FRISE, Anthology Film Archives, and MIX NYC, among other venues.

 Additional Materials

icon SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama performance program


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