Artist Richard John Jones premiers a new short film, projected within an installation designed specially for the Rose Lipman Community Hall. Using only images of Liberace’s hands and a court transcript from one of his well-publicised libel trials in the late 1950s,
Windstärke Fünf (The Summit of Sex) explores the discrepancy between Liberace’s highly flamboyant co-authored public image and the legal preoccupation with his body.
“I have to report that Mr. Liberace, like “WIND-STARKE FUNF” is about the most that man can take. But he is not a drink. He is YEARNING WINDSTRENGTH FIVE. He is the summit of sex – the pinnacle of Masculine, Feminine and Neuter.“
The Daily Mirror 1959
The film is accompanied by a text written collaboratively by Denise Ferreira da Silva, Calogero Giametta and Richard John Jones. The text brings together the visual research conducted by Jones for his film and the specific academic enquiries of Giametta and da Silva. Rather than comparing, the three discuss in parallel the semiotic universe constructed by Liberace over a period of significant social change in the USA alongside notions of spaciality, narrative and biographical borders experienced by queer asylum seekers and legal cases in which race is foregrounded as a key signifier of difference.
Available within the context of Windstärke Fünf (The Summit of Sex), the text brings into question how the law is inscribed upon the body and how the body moves through narrative constructions and spaces of recognition. More concisely, how are signifiers assembled in a particular way at a particular time in order to construct a specific moment of legal resolution?
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All photos by Eva Rowson