Admit It

is an underground cult film theater that has mysteriously wound up in the gallery. The theater is staffed by an eccentric cast of characters who are unaware of the gallery and go about their regular workday guiding audiences of fifteen at a time through a choose-your-own-adventure film. The film currently on view is Whisper Realty. Karen Whisper, a real estate agent, holds an open house in a home that is still occupied by the previous family’s history. The cast incessantly interrupts the film to dramatically mock it, illicit audience participation, or have side conversations. Each showing is a unique experience. Admit It theater staff are circumstantially united by their job and find it senseless to devote their time and energy to this meaningless area of their life. Their dedication is mediocre at best.

Actively defying the prescription of productivity results in social displacement. An outsider group forms. We don’t know what to do with you, so we’ll just pretend you don’t exist. It is important to note that basic denial is perhaps the most benign response to a non-conforming person, and confrontation can range from all levels of hostility. The struggle against displacement is an inescapable condition of queerness, which results in invisibility, misrecognition, and blatant erasure. A theater is ripped from its previous context, materialized for a fleeting moment, cockeyed in relation to the gallery container that holds it. The outsiders are prone to seek refuge with each other, and they usually find sanctum in inconspicuous spaces. Since there are hardly any social scripts for an outsider, they are typically self-invented. The self becomes a language and an instrument that is used to act and create a new order.1

  1. Philip Core and George Melly, Camp: The Lie That Tells the Truth (London: Plexus, 1984).

Performance and Installation took place in Ewing Gallery, Knoxville, TN from March 25th – April 2nd , 2019. There were 26 20-minute shows over the course of 7 days.

This project could not be possible without the collaborative efforts of some amazing individuals.

Performers: Perry Davis, Rachel Doub, Katie Gentner, Ellen Nikbakht, Cole O'Keefe, Jill Roland, Dede Sanders, Michael Santoro, Catherine Siravantha, Matt Styles, and Jaylin Witherspoon.

Special thanks: Nick Flair, Brandon Rei, and Katie's thesis committee, Rubens Ghenov, Emily Bivens, John C. Kelly and Lynn Sacco.