ECF Funded Berlin networking and study trip

I received STEP Travel Grant from European Cultural Foundation to attend in person the Transnational Queer Underground exhibition in Berlin, network with international queer artists and complete a programme of self-directed study about Queer and Cabaret Berlin. This is a slightly extended version of my travel report on ECF website.

I visited the Transnational Queer Underground exhibition at Gallery ReTramp. You can download the catalogue in pdf. At the Easter Brunch, I showcased excerpts from my solo musical queer cabaret ‘Tricyclic Transform, as Drag Queen and Drag King including 2 Brecht songs from Threepenny Opera I dreamt of performing in Berlin! I watched performances by both local and international performers who had traveled especially like me. I attended a costume workshop which gave me valuable insight for my drag.

Full performance:

Brecht only:

I followed a program of self-directed study about Queer and Cabaret Berlin. I visited the Schwules Museum of LGBTQ Art, and was particularly interested in rarely found information about Queer cabaret performers persecuted by the Nazis.

I attended a LGBT history walking tour around the neighbourhood where Christopher Isherwood lived in 1929-1933, today still Berlin’s LGBT area. I saw the buildings of the bohemian boarding house at 17 Nollendorf Strasse where Isherwood rented a room, and the Eldorado nightclub (the real life inspiration for Cabaret’s Kit Kat club), now an organic shop 🙂 To learn the full story, I recommend reading ‘Christopher and his Kind’, the real life account of the part of his life fictionalised in The Berlin Novels (or watching the film adaptation). A particular anecdote made my day: Jean Norris, the real life inspiration for Sally Bowles, was a lifelong committed socialist. When the movie Cabaret was out, newspapers including the Daily Mail were stalking her in front of the house she shared with her daughter. The daughter replied ‘you want to talk to my mum about sex, she wants to talk to you about politics’.

Former Eldorado nightclub
Former Eldorado nightclub
Chistopher Isherwood House 17 Nollendorf Strasse
Chistopher Isherwood House 17 Nollendorf Strasse
Plaque at Chistopher Isherwood House 17 Nollendorf Strasse
Plaque at Chistopher Isherwood House 17 Nollendorf Strasse
Tiergarten Memorial for homesexuals persecuted under Nazism
Tiergarten Memorial for homesexuals persecuted under Nazism

I visited local queer-friendly underground art spaces (Sudblock, Silver Future, The Ballery neighbouring Isherwood’s former house, Barbiche, Instinct at Village Berlin), Bertolt Brecht’s House and his and Helen Weigel’s grave in the nearby cemetery, and the Tiergarten Memorial for homesexuals persecuted under Nazism. I attended representations of the Threepenny Opera at Brecht’s own theatre Berliner ensemble, and a musical Alles Schwindel by Mischa Spoliansky, composer of 1920 queer anthem Lila Lied.

Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel grave
Bertolt Brecht and Helene Weigel grave
Tiergarten Memorial for homesexuals persecuted under Nazism
Tiergarten Memorial for homesexuals persecuted under Nazism

The ECF grant enabled me to experience the Art Scene in a major queer hotspot in mainland Europe, and network in person with artists with whom I had previously collaborated digitally. I was pleasantly surprised by how much space the local LGBTQ magazine Siegessaeule devotes to culture, compared to its London/Brighton counterparts. I aim to pitch the TQU travelling exhibition to contacts from a Brighton conference about museums collaborating with LGBTQ communities, to try and find a host venue in the UK. Lacking time to visit all the LGBTQ history hotspots identified in my research inspired the possibility of crowdsourced contributions to a digital video installation I’m working on, to which worldwide TQU artists could contribute.

Tricyclic Transform full show at ACTS RE-ACTS 5 Wimbledon College of Arts: Performance Laboratory

Wimbledon College of Arts: Performance Laboratory
Friday 2 March, 2 – 9pm

Tricyclic Transform Full cabaret show at 18:40 in the theatre.

Event: Melanie Menard, Tricyclic Transform (70m)
Melanie Menard presents Tricyclic Transform, a solo musical cabaret exploring genderqueer identity with songs and drag. Join Miss Liliane, ‘biologically-challenged drag-queen’, round the gender wheel as they try to negotiate restrictive gender-roles by performing symbolic rituals and re-enacting iconic songs, trying on identities as they try on clothes and pitches.
Tricyclic Transform goes beyond the ‘private confessional’ nature of many queer solo performance, using ‘Lynchian’ cabaret and German Expressionism aesthetics to explore the alienation of enforced gender roles on individuals from a full spectrum of psychological perspectives.
20 songs span several genres (Torch songs, jazz, musicals, gospel, European Cabaret/Chanson, ‘storytelling’ songs by Johnny Cash, Scott Walker), united by a dramatic delivery and focused on archetypes: sacrificial femininity, Lilith (Predatory Femininity), Androgyne, Dionysos (Broken Man). The theatrical presentation mixes popular alt-drag cabaret with live-art aesthetics including on-stage costume change, breast binding and destroying make-up. Judith Butler takes on RuPaul’s Drag Race!

Refreshments available during the cabaret.

Photographs from Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage shown at ‘Bohemian Like Me’ LGBTQ art, Cambridge.

Photographs I took at Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage back in 2014 were shown at ‘Bohemian Like Me’ LGBTQ art exhibition in Cambridge earlier this month. Read a review of the show on Varsity Mag. I lived in Cambridge between 2005 and 2011 and the queer cultural scene was not really visible, so it’s really cool that people organised this show, it got good reception, especially from young people who welcomed the visibility.

‘Cosmic’ wins 2nd Jury Prize on Transnational Queer Underground!

My ‘Cosmic’ photograph from ‘On the Wild Side’ won 2nd Jury Prize on Transnational Queer Underground ‘At a glance’ photo competition.

Photgrapher and judge Adrien Leavitt commented:
This photo evokes Nan Goldin and leaves me with more questions than answers. I love how still the subject’s face is but the movement in their hand.

Well, Nan Goldin, I can’t see what could be higher praise 🙂

Tricyclic Transform @ Modern Panic, 21/10/17

I’ll be performing a short 20 minutes version of Tricyclic Transform as part of Panic Sermons Act II : A collection of riotous acts by ground breaking live art practitioners. I have the feeling I’ll be the lil’ Drag Sissy and old fashioned tea-sipping torch singer having a mild neurotic attack among all the big bad body-artists 😀

Part of Modern Panic by Guerilla Zoo
Participating Live Artists
Saturday 21 October, 19:00–23:00
Apiary Studios
458 Hackney Road, E2 9EG London, United Kingdom
Facebook Event
Tickets £12

Tricyclic Transform – A Genderqueer Musical Cabaret – Trailer from Melanie Menard on Vimeo.

Tricyclic Transform at Transnational Queer Underground, Tallinn, Estonia

Tricyclic Transform continues its roll of touring with the ‘physical exhibition’ #TheGalleryProject of online project Transnational Queer Underground. The first exhibition was hosted in Tallinn, Estonia, and TQU are looking for host museums/galleries in various countries to host the project. Please contact them if your organisation can help!

TQU made a really swanky pdf catalogue of all the work. Download it for free!

Some pictures of my work in context:

And a local visitor to the show! I love wild birds and wish I could travel to Tallinn if such beautiful creatures dwell there 🙂

Tricyclic Transform at #SheFest2017 Sheffield

Tricyclic Transform photos and video shown at 35 Chapel Walk, Sheffield for their International Women’s day feminist show #SheFest2017

Exhibition 2-15 March 2017.

Film screening, Saturday March 11th, 6-8pm.

SheFest 2017 in collaboration with 35 Chapel Walk presents ‘In Plain Sight’, an exhibition to challenge, persist and celebrate. SheFest is a flagship celebration as part of International Women’s Day, promoting gender equality and developing supportive networks for self-defining women.

It is important to celebrate the empowerment of women and the steps that we are making with progressive feminism. However, it is also essential that we highlight and challenge the problems that women all over the world still face every day as a result of patriarchy and misogyny. ‘In Plain Sight’ brings together a diverse variety of national and international artists to make a stand against restrictive, destructive and anti-progressive societal “norms” and pressures applied by androcentric values and politics.

Virginia Woolf once famously said; “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”. Well no more. ‘In Plain Sight’ captures the current unrest amongst women today and encourages persistence in the face of ever challenging patriarchal adversities.

Patriarchy: A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.
Misogyny: Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.
Androcentric : Something that is focused or centred on men.