WRONG KIND OF FAT: SOME BEAR OVER THE PAIN-BOW (2019)
SUMMARY: Employing protest art, chanting within ACT UP and queer movements, of political campaign, and visual techniques used throughout Marlon Riggs' VOICES UNITED (1989), this film features me with a hypnotic soundtrack of me repeating queer male archetypes against these words written over my torso.
LEE DISCUSSING HIS FILM 'WRONG KIND OF FAT: SOME BEAR OVER THE PAIN-BOW' (2019)
WRONG KIND OF FAT reflects on kinds of role that gay men are expected to conform to, where identity becomes something detached or external and how you can fit into that.
What function does stereotyping or strict boundaries to certain kinds of labels serve? Maybe it’s about being seen. If I can say that I am ‘this’ very definite thing. I can be seen through this kind of role whereas otherwise … We always think there’s a certain kind of playfulness with these roles, but its boundaries are policed so rigidly.
The gay male community is even more controlling about what you should look like and how you should behave - why is that community stereotyping themselves? A niched community that is then even more niched. I am highlighting society’s control on body shape - but not society as a whole, I am using language from a specific subculture - a subculture which is very anti being controlled then controls itself in a very nasty way. This very inclusive environment which is very coercive of itself and quite damaging.
This film uses gay slang ‘bear, cub, wolf etc.’ and addresses power relations in queer subcultures and particularly within queer male spaces of conviviality which engage in processes of inclusion and exclusion. It employs protest art, of modes of representation, chanting within ACT UP and queer movements, of political campaign. The speaking mouth shot throughout the film draws inspiration from visual techniques used throughout Marlon Riggs' VOICES UNITED (1989) a documentary about the struggles for social acceptance amongst black gay men combining music, poetry dance and video. Reminiscent of early guerrilla protest video art from the 1980s, the film combines fine art and moving image by including my own drawings of my body.
I remember my first time at the famous London cruise bar, the Kings Arms where I first discovered that bears and cubs don’t just live in the forest. As a hairy slightly stocky gay man in the early 2000s in London, I felt at home here amongst men who looked like me, whose bodies were like mine. I found men with this body type very attractive sexually and very desirable and likewise I wanted men to find my body sexy and desirable. But I soon learned that there were power relations and antagonisms: I was told I was too slim to be a bear and too fat to be a cub. So where do I go? Defying the antagonists, I would continue to socialise and drink in that pub regardless (and desire and be desired).
The spaces that young queer people are creating for themselves are animated by a constant sense of self- policing, saying the right thing, being pc, body image ideals; feeling quite oppressed themselves. Certain subsets of gay subculture promote themselves as generating inclusive spaces whilst containing aspects that discriminate. It features me with a hypnotic soundtrack of me repeating queer male archetypes against these words written over my torso. I’ve been told I am too slim to be a bear and too fat to be a cub. My frustration with labelling has led me to resist such discrimination. I am never going to escape these prejudices and pressures. I am never going to fit into society’s ideals. They are made up and everyone aspires to them. I will never give into these.
Project Type:Experimental, Short
Completion Date:March 26, 2019
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
MicroActs • Artist Film ScreeningLondon
July 18, 2019
Athens Porn Film FestivalAthens
May 23, 2020
Porn Film Festival, ViennaVienna
Vesuvius International Film Festival
May 31, 2020
HOMOGRAFÍA / HOMOGRAPHYBrussels
October 10, 2020
Porn Film Festival 2020, BerlinBerin
October 23, 2020
States of Desire: Tom of Finland in the Queer ImaginationPhiladelphia
September 6, 2020
North American premiere
ART200 International Queer Film FestivalBucharest
October 26, 2020
Dr Lee Campbell trained in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London in 2005 and received his doctorate in 2016. His recent experimental performance poetry films have been selected for many international queer film festivals including Queerbee LGBT Film Festival, The Gilbert Baker Film Festival, Kansas 2020, HOMOGRAPHY, Brussels and STATES OF DESIRE: Tom of Finland in the Queer Imagination, Casa de Duende, Philadelphia, USA, WICKED QUEER 202,Boston, USA, 2021 Film Vault Presents, Manchester, UK, 2021 FilmPride Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQ+ film festival, Brighton, UK,Splice Film Festival 2021, Brooklyn, USA Festival ECRÃ Edition 5, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, SPHERE Festival, and Queer Life, EdgeZones, Miami, USA 2021.
He has a solo exhibition of his film work at The Sidewalk Video Gallery, Fountain Street, Boston USA in late 2021. His films have been selected for prestigious awards/nominations including:
2021 Honorable Mention, Splice Film Festival, New York
2021 Nominee for Best Original Concept and Best Atmosphere Independent Horror Movie Awards
2021 Honorable Mention Award for 'See Me' (2020), Screener Short Films
2021 Best Kent Film nominee for ‘Peer’ (2020), Margate Bookie Film Festival
2021 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2020 Semi-Finalist (3rd place winner), Splice Film Festival, New York
2019 Special Mention Award, London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival
Dr Lee Campbell describes himself as 'a Londoner who makes experimental films and performance poetry about being gay and working class using barbaric wit and humour’. He uses poetry and experimental film as a form of autoethnographic storytelling/sharing of personal narratives often raw, often painful but always generous and authentic.
I am interested how the medium of film and photography (that particularly include collage-methods) considers how male body image/self-representation particularly from a gay male perspective has been coded, performed, and socially constructed from the 1960s to the present day. Applied humour as a tactic to subvert and challenge issues of representation, my current film work presents a personal archaeology and revolves around my own autobiographical perspective, using the mechanisms of comedy and humour as an integral part of my work to engage, disarm, and highlight.
With a background in Painting and then Performance Art, my current artist moving image film practice brings together personal drawing, painting, photography and performance. Collage has become a major tool in this recent film practice, reinvigorating paintings and drawings that I produced nearly twenty years ago which are juxtaposed throughout my films with current photographic and performance for camera work. These films are often made with reusing / repurposing personal archival material and sound and moving image recordings. Things insist, in a spiral, nothing’s wasted. In this new exciting phase of my practice, I use all my capacities, from theatre to drawing to painting to language to the comic to the affective to the relational, to painting and performance and film. Excavating (fine art) work I made long ago and resuscitating it, I bring it back to life through the medium of film and moving image. Integrating my fine artwork into my film work, my films create an arresting palimpsest effect by recycling pieces from previous bodies of work and placing them within my current context to see how their meanings may now differ from when they were first conceived. Whilst what is presented through my films can be read as one person’s (my) narrative, so too can it easily be read as lots of different voices layered to talk about wider levels of experience with various references to cultural context that (any)one can relate to.