New Love: 1910

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Tom Thumb in Love

Project Description

Target Date: Paris Preview March 2016; Performances in New York and Paris: Autumn 2016

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In 1910. Pathé Freres motion picture studio released Tom Pouce Suit Une Femme, a short film by director Adrien Barrere, who was best known for his work as an illustrator. Its subject was a comedic tale of romance between a transgender woman and a dwarf who encounter one another on the sidewalk in front of the transwoman’s apartment building. The dwarf follows her into the building and, unseen, enters the apartment. A romantic flirtation takes place and is precipitously brought to an end when the transwoman picks up her suitor and drops him from the window to the sidewalk. Under the english title, Mary Long and Sammy Short , to critics at that time in the review, Motography, it “embodies in quintessential form the kind of vulgarity and horseplay that has been the basis of so many motion picture attacks.”  For This Dancerie, it offers points of departure for explorations of themes and issues that will span the coming century.

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Tom Pouce… begins with an encounter between two cisgender males on a city street. It is opens by positing an example of queer life lived in public that, as implied by the comment of the films review, is clearly deemed outside the realm of public decency. Upon entering her apartment, we see “Mary” open the apartment’s windows, making a view of life within her apartment visible to her neighbors. In front of those windows an interaction takes place with “Sammy,” her diminutive suitor, who pursues Mary with stereotypical masculine bravado. “Mary,” however, quickly makes it clear that “Sammy’s” display is both flattering and laughable and that she, in campy physical display of her attenuated body’s flexibility, is in control of the situation and ultimately, ends the flirtation. Mary then erupts in what we imagine would be audibly uproarious laughter.

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In this narrative, many aspects of queer life are posited. Among them are self-determination of one’s gender presentation; fluidity within the context of predetermined social norms of behavior; unfettered pursuit of one’s desires; and the ability to overcome societally defined limitations inherent in one’s physical identity.

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It is important to note that this film was produced as Paris recovered from The Great Flood that took place in January of 1910. It is arguable that it is a manifestation of a sense of gratitude for and revelling in the spectrum of life’s joys that comes with surviving transformative circumstances.

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It is also notable that the circumstances that are represented in this film are modest and clearly reference the life of a respectable working class, not the demi-monde. Tom Thumb is pursuing his love interest in clear light of day, in the world that most Parisians inhabited. These two individuals could be your neighbors, involved in a romantic interlude.

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As the first project of This Dancerie, New Love:1910* will be expanded by Tony Whitfield as a suite of films that embellish and represent “Tom Pouce…”juxtaposed with other rarely seen footage of Paris in 1910. Each of these films will then be scored by several composers/ sound artists in collaboration with Whitfield who will weave a narrative structure that creates a romantic drama in the context of city in crisis. This project will be presented in screenings in New York as part of a fundraising event series offered as Kickstarter rewards and to a general public. In addition, New Love: 1910 will be screened in Paris as a kick-off for This Dancerie in the autumn of 2016.

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Space Bar 2Clips from section of the evening long concert/ screening of New Love: 1910 (the Great Flood.) The first was edited by Peifu Chen with a score by Andrew Alden in collaboration with Tony Whitfield; the second was edited Hanisha Haranji with a score by Brett Gleason in collaboration with Tony Whitfield.

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The following selections are work performed by Les Chaud Lapins. This ensemble will perform live during the evening long presentation.

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Moi, Je crache dans L’eau

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Pluie

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La Barque d’Yves

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Rendez Vous Sous La Pluie

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Paris Underwater: Background

WRITTEN BY

Aamna Mohdin
March 08, 2016

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Paris wants to be ready for the worst-case scenario: a catastrophic flood that could reach the scale of the “Great Flood of Paris.”

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In 1910, the Seine rose eight meters (26 feet) above its usual level as a result of unusually high levels of rainfall. The river flooded Paris for over a week; inhabitants were forced to evacuate their homes and travelled around the city with makeshift footbridges. Now, officials are undergoing a two-week exercise to prepare for a similar devastating flood. “This is the first time an exercise of this scale has been carried out over a region the size of Ile-de-France,” Jean-Paul Kihl, secretary-general of the Paris security and defense zone, told The Local.

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Kihl insists that this isn’t a waste of time; a major flood will definitely happen. “It might be in five, 10, or even 20 years time, but it will happen,” he said. The exercise—called Sequena 2016—suggests there’s a one-in-hundred chance that Paris could be struck with another disastrous flood in any given year. The flood could surround Paris’ famous landmarks, such as The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, in water and cause €30 billion ($33 billion) in material damages (link in French). The Urban Planning Institute (IAU) released a series of videos to show what a devastating flight would look like.

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The exercise will replicate the conditions of a real flood, where the river levels would rise gradually every day until it reaches eight meters—the same level as the 1910 flood. Metro stations will be walled up, radio stations will sound the alarm, and important artwork will be moved to a safe place as part of the simulation. Eight-seven public and private institutions will take part in the exercise, which includes police officers, ambulance workers, and firemen.

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A flood of that scale would affect around 830,000 people and 100,000 businesses, representing 750,000 jobs. The IAU has even released an interactive map of the city to highlight the areas most in danger of flooding.

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