Dare You was inspired by my high school students, two of whom I caught playing "Gay Chicken' in the classroom one day. "Gay Chicken" is a game in which two boys will dare each other to kiss, moving closer and closer, until one 'chickens out'. I was interested in how this game might be a primer for young boys' exploration of intimacy. Realizing that there are relatively few circumstances or contexts in which our culture condones and supports male intimacy, I found this game particularly intriguing. I restaged it with adults, some were strangers, others friends. The participants are both gay and straight.
For this piece, several men (both gay and straight) were asked to participate. For each scene of the video, a pair of men stand facing each other. They look directly into each other’s eyes as they slowly move closer and closer together (as if to kiss), until one of the two men ‘chickens out’, and pulls away, or until they both kiss.
I am interested in the questions about social politics that this ‘game’ engenders. The piece investigates ideas of sexuality, intimacy, and heteronormative bias. Thanks to mainstream media, it seems to be far more ‘acceptable’ to see two women (whether straight or gay) kissing than two men. Here machismo and masculinity are juxtaposed with tenuous timidity and sexual tension.
The final piece will be a single channel video piece that features several different pairs of performers (gay/straight, gay/gay, straight/straight, friend/friend, stranger/stranger). Each couple will be framed in the video with a medium shot of the heads of each man against a monochromatic background. There will be no sound to accompany the images, except perhaps the sound that occurs naturally during filming.