Peter Cramer Variations on B&W Study (2014)
Artwork courtesy of the artists

SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama (1992)

Peter Cramer and Jack Waters explore their identities as visual artists and gay men in SPEW: A New York Glamrock Operadrama (1992). Cramer and Waters express the personal as political through monologues while using visual and sonic elements to form a pastiche of opera. They reflect upon their personal and creative lives in the 1970s before the AIDS epidemic impacted New York City in the 1980s. The artists use classical and avant-garde forms to merge the differing aesthetics of the uptown and the downtown art scenes. An important element that Cramer and Waters utilize throughout the performance is montage. This technique culminates most notably on stage with a film projection of the artists’ Black and White Study (1990)—an exploitation of race and sexuality through dance. SPEW reflects Cramer and Waters’s artistic process as partners in art and life.

PETER CRAMER is an artist and activist based in New York City. Cramer’s performances, films, and installations have been featured in alternative spaces, museums, and cultural institutions around the world. His films are available through the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, Fales Library & Special Collections, and Allied Productions, Inc. Cramer is an artist+ member of Visual AIDS, which is an organization that utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving the legacy of the AIDS epidemic. He is the recipient of a NEA InterArts Fellowship and a grant from the US Virgin Islands Council on the Arts. Cramer recently received the Kathy Acker Award—a tribute given to members of the avant-garde art community who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline.

JACK WATERS is a visual artist, filmmaker, writer, choreographer, and performer. His artwork has been included in the exhibitions The Black Male (1995) at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Triple Threat (2008) at Frise, Not only this, but ‘New language beckons us’ (2013) at New York University, NOT OVER: 25 Years of Visual AIDS (2013) and Ephemera as Evidence (2014) at La MaMa Galleria. Waters appeared as the lead character in the critically acclaimed film Jason and Shirley (2015), which was co-written with Sarah Schulman and Stephen Winter. The film has been screened at multiple venues including the Museum of Modern Art, British Film Institute, and Anthology Film Archives. His films are included as part of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS and the AIDS Activist Video Collection at the New York Public Library. Waters’ archives are held at Fales Library & Special Collections at New York University. Additional materials from his artistic career are housed at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and Allied Productions, Inc. As a journalist, he has published articles on politics, cultural affairs, visual arts, film, and media. Waters was a founding contributing writer for Color Life, the news journal for L.G.B.T. and Two-Spirit people of color, and for LGNY, New York City’s L.G.B.T. news bi-weekly.