Constructing Consuelo* is a Radical Drag project-based on the controversial figure of Consuelo Ciscar, director of IVAM,the Museum of Modern Art in Valencia. Once an internationally important institution under her management it has become a provincial museum showing work of little contemporary relevance.
The project was carried out by doing performances and micro-actions that criticised the policy of managing culture in Valencia as epitomised by Ciscar. By creating links between social and political movements that already existed in the city I continued my involvement in trying to challenge this order and expose the fact that in Valencia "culture" is controlled by politicians and not by professionals who have a cultural background.
When did the project begin? Since I acted as representative of the "Cultural Committee of the 15-M"(27.09.2011) at the press conference organised by the Association of Valencian Art Critics and other professional groups in the field to demand the resignation of the Director of IVAM. Before this first press conference I had considered dressing as Consuelo Ciscar to draw attention to the terrible situation of the arts in Valencia.
Where will it be carried out? In the Press /in the streets /in private spaces in Valencia.
The politics of culture in Valencia is to build EMBLEMATIC SPACES and EMPTY them of any CONTENT. IVAM is a prime expample of this, a DEAD space where NOTHING happens. The museum´s director knows next to nothing about art, yet has signed articles, "curated" exhibitions and so on ...
Here we will showcase her work- what she really does: Building (her own self image) Consuelo(consolation) for the MASSES.
*Translators note: Consuelo- the directors name- means consolation so the name of this blog is a play on words since Valencian politicians combine a policy of cuts in funding to local cultural initiatives with massive overspending on huge events which attract tourists but have no local repercussions. ">
The concept of cross-dressing as a woman has never really interested me. I do not like the parodic exaggerations of the drag queen because they almost always lack any real political challenge and are based on the exploitation of gender stereotypes. My philosophy is much closer to that of the "Radical Drag" scene where clothes and accesories are used to challenge the established roles of gender and politics that the patriarchy imposes. I like the Spanish concept of the "travesti"(Lit:transvestite), more like the old fashioned drag queens who based their act on the "interpretation of a female role" (usually divas) (Spains oldest travesti Paco España, interviewed by the author).
This is the "mask of gender" spoken of by Judith Butler.
When I was asked to represent the Culture Commission of the 15_M*( People Power) movement it was explained like this to me:
"There are 3 men and a woman on the panel so we think its best if you go to make more of a balance"
¿Balance? In my performances I am always quite androgynous and in the past I have described myself as a " deconstructionist ex-drag queen" and even travesti, but was not quite sure how to dress for such a serious occasion.
The day before I came up with the solution-to go as Consuelo! With the help of my stylist Anna Maria Glameruese I carried out some tests and sent photos to the committee to see what they thought. They were delighted but we decided that maybe the press conference was not an entirely appropriate occasion and not wanting to turn a serious event into a media circus I decided to postpone my first public appearance as Consuelo for another occasion.
It didn´t take long before another opportunity arose - on October 15, 2011- in the form of the Global Demonstration to Support the Wall Street Sit-in and demand Global Change. Consuelo was a great success and I was interviewed for Channel 5.
Soon I began to appear all over town as Consuelo, in a queer festival organising a workshop on radical drag, in a cabaret lipsynching to Lydia Lunch´s song "No Excuse", giving talks in the local art school, supporting neighbours involved in the protests to stop the local government from destroying one of the most typical of neighbourhoods in the city- the seaside area "El Cabañal", and delivering speeches supposedly written by Consuelo about urban policy.