Dwoskin, Disability And… sexuality, illness, intoxication: Intoxicated By My Illness

27 May, 2021
– 27 May, 2021
A close up of a head of a white man lying with his eyes closed. A pair of hands caressing man’s face.
Intoxicated By My Illness, Stephen Dwoskin, 2001-2. Courtesy of the artist and LUX, London.

LUX X CFAC presents Dwoskin, Disability And… sexuality, illness, intoxication: Intoxicated by my Illness (2001) in conversation with P. Staff and Robert Andy Coombs as part of the AHRC-funded project, The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin.
The recording of this event is available to revisit for a month, 27 May – 27 June 2021.

CONTENT NOTE: Please note that this film includes depictions of invasive medical procedures, patients in intensive care, and consensual BDSM sexual activity.
A resources page has been put together to help anyone who needs it. bit.ly/3foLBeE

Transcript: Introduction by Jenny Chamarette  https://bit.ly/3frmM1P

Please take a moment to tell us how you experienced our events. SURVEY – https://bit.ly/3i50Z1o

This is the second in a series of rare screenings and discussion events exploring the experimental filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin’s complex relationships with disability, accessibility, care, illness and sexuality. 

Stephen Dwoskin came from the underground, and with INTOXICATED BY MY ILLNESS he returned to it. After his last film of the 1990s, PAIN IS (1997), he broke away from the increasingly format-driven, committee-governed world of television, and found himself out of favour with arts funders. But if INTOXICATED marked a return to underground practices, it was also a step forward into a new medium, and a new way of working – with digital cameras and digital editing.

When the two-part final version played at Rotterdam International Film Festival in 2002, Adrian Martin called the result a ‘masterpiece’. Dwoskin had alienated his sponsors by breaking several taboos – blurring distinctions between medical care and sexual intimacy, clinical and sexual labour, pain and pleasure, illness-induced delirium and erotic ecstasy. 

INTOXICATED troubles all these borders: with its explicit depictions of BDSM sexual practices, medical care and invasive procedures, its sex-positive approaches to illness, disability, kink-based sexualities and sex work actively court controversy. Digital footage by Dwoskin and others during his extended hospital stay in an Intensive Care Unit is combined with filming of his own sex life at home. INTOXICATED becomes a new way of documenting intimacy.

At the same time, INTOXICATED is a painterly exploration of digital filmmaking: a testbed, if you like, for editing suites like Final Cut Pro. It is a landmark film in digital filmmaking’s evolution, using frames within frames, superimposition, slowed down footage, bleeds and fades to distort and reform the moving image, alongside an elegiac soundtrack. 

The event will begin with an introduction and communal viewing at 7pm on Thursday 27 May, followed by a discussion on crip and queer sexualities, disability, illness and intoxication from 8pm featuring artists P. Staff and Robert Andy Coombs and chaired by Jenny Chamarette.

INTOXICATED BY MY ILLNESS has no dialogue and music from soundtrack will be identified by closed captions. The live discussion will be BSL interpreted and live captioned. The discussion will last no longer than 60 minutes.

This event is co-hosted by the LUX and the Centre for Film Aesthetics and Cultures (CFAC) at the University of Reading, and supported by the Arts Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Fund of the University of Reading.

Jenny Chamarette is a writer, scholar and curator, and Senior Research Fellow at Reading School of Art. She is Co-Investigator on the AHRC-funded project, The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin.

Robert Andy Coombs is a photographic artist who explores disability and sexuality with a focus on documenting his intimate relationships with friends and lovers. Since receiving his MFA in 2020 at Yale School of Art, he has exhibited in New York and Palm Springs and has received widespread international acclaim for his work.

P. Staff lives and works in Los Angeles, USA and London, UK. Their work combines video installation, performance and publishing to interrogate notions of discipline, dissent, labour and the queer body. They have exhibited extensively, including Serpentine Galleries, London (2019); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2017); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2017); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2016). They have gained significant recognition and awards for their work which is held in private and public collections internationally. 


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