xplore Comes Out
A film documentary by Micha Stella
This year marks the 14th edition of the xplore festival in Berlin, the 5th in Rome and the 1st in Copenhagen. In the past, other cities have also welcomed Xplore: three times in Vienna and in Sydney, once in Paris, and once in Barcelona.
All together, this festival of the art of lust has happened 25 times around the world. Each year, Felix Ruckert and his small crew, led by Caprice Dilba and delta RA'i, creates and realizes the Xplore concept, one of the most radical and ambitious participative explorations of the body, art and sexuality.
Xplore offers workshops, bodywork, play spaces, massage, a Shibari lounge, live music, role-play, and since 2015, an academic symposium with talks on topics related to the festival’s themes.
Felix’s creation gets bigger and more successful each year, but is yet to receive support or acknowledgment from any institution. In fact, it was after the first edition of xplore in 2004 that the Berlin senate decided to end years of financial support for Felix Ruckert’s dance company, after the press denounced the use of public money for the arts to explore sexuality.
THE GLOBAL CONTEXT
But what is the role of art, if not challenging current societal norms? What are the borders between body and dance? Between dance and sex? And between art and sex?
Why is it that exploring sexuality between consenting adults outside the allowed proscribed path and away from the roles that regulate sexual interaction in our society, is ignored, or even demonized and condemned?
And what about BDSM? “Fifty Shades of Grey”, a very mediocre modern Cinderella story with BDSM scenes written by a Mormon woman, had sold over 125 million copies worldwide by June 2015. It has been translated into 52 languages, and set a record in the UK as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. Is this a sign? A sign of what?
The sex industry is bigger than ever. It encompasses not only mainstream porn, but also artistic underground productions, queer feminist porn and homemade porn by amateurs. Big festivals tackle different aspects of sexuality, like tantra or sacred sexuality. There are sex-positive spaces and arenas for sexual healing blossoming. A growing number of schools and clubs dedicated to Japanese bondage rapidly transform this SM practice into a mainstream entertainment.
What is lacking in our society concerning the body and sexuality? What is taught to our children about their own bodies, their freedom, and how to interact with others?
And what do our role models tell us about these times? What kind of masculinity do leaders like Putin, Berlusconi and Trump embody? Are they the final expression of a dying mode of patriarchy, of societies built on abuse and violence? Are we ready for human rights, consent, gender equality, personal and collective freedom?
WHERE HAVE WE GOT TO?
On the dark side:
Homosexuality and any behaviour or identities that subvert the binary division of our society are still condemned and persecuted in many countries.
Religions dictate rules that put their followers in danger in the name of dubious morals, and foment conflicts.
Woman and children are sold around the world as sex slaves.
There are scandals of paedophile rings within the Catholic Church, among UN peacekeepers and the very people that charged with helping the vulnerable and underprivileged.
Modern wars are fought on the bodies of innocents. Sexual aggression against women is omnipresent. The first cause of death of a woman between 20 and 45 - more then cancer or car accidents - is to be killed by her husband or partner; same goes for pregnant women.
We believe that to talk about sexuality is to talk about politics. Connecting with our bodies means accepting ourselves and others. Freeing ourselves to be happy is the first revolutionary act we can do. Sex and art are incredibly powerful tools to open new paths, transform the world and change history.
We can all gain by expressing our individuality, voicing our desires, loudly asserting our rights and freedom to play, to feel, to enjoy.
THE TIME IS NOW
For all these reasons, we decided it is time for Xplore to COME OUT.
Yes, Xplore is COMING OUT to the world.
We want to share what we do, how we explore our bodies and souls, how we relate to each other and play. We want to show we exist, and that there is no danger in experimenting and searching, questioning and looking for new answers and new ways of living.
We want to tell the world that sexuality is something beautiful and playful, and that when there is consent and reciprocal respect, every game is allowed.
Following “Violently Happy”, Paola Calvo’s the beautiful film about schwelle7 and the people there, is it now time to make a film about Xplore.
For this reason I have selected a very special crew to film and photograph xplore Berlin 2017
PARTICIPATION AND CONSENT
BUT DON’T WORRY. We accept that not everyone is ready to come out. Filming will be restricted to certain hours and certain spaces in order to protect and respect those who don’t wish to appear in the film.
For the others, those who have already revealed their faces to the world, and those who might hesitate but wish to do so – this is your chance to express yourself and support our festival and its values.
“I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING ALL YOUR STORIES AND PERSONAL PERCEPTIONS OF XPLORE, AND TO MAKING A FILM WITH YOU, FOR THE WORLD!” MICHA STELLA
LOGISTICS AND FILM ZONES
Only at specified times some workshops spaces will be filmed. Those will be clearly marked in the program and all workshops will be repeated several times in order to allow those who do not wish to appear in the film to take part in all of them.
The play spaces will be filmed alternately for a short time – no more then one or two hours each day. This will be indicated at the entrance of the play space.
A special space, the “Film Set Room”, will be open to anyone willing to display intimacy and discover the joy of playful encounters in front of a camera. They will be coached and supported by a professional film crew.
If you wish to actively participate in the film, if would like to give your own testimonial and explain your relationship to the festival in an interview, please don’t hesitate to write to me. If you don’t want to be filmed but would like to be interviewed for the podcast, please write to me as well .
For all questions and concerns: michastella(at)xplore-berlin.de
KATJA and PHILIPPE will realize a podcast episode on "Küchenradio" about the xplore Berlin 2017 Festival.
They will record sounds during the workshops and make audio interviews. Of course in respect of the anonymous character of the whole event and of the persons they talk to.
The audio recordings might be used as well in Micha’s documentary.
THE FILM TEAM
MICHA STELLA is a queer feminist artist, filmmaker, performer and workshop leader. Her works focus on identity, gender freedom and sexual empowerment. Since 2013, when she enters schwelle7 for the first time, she is very influenced by Felix Ruckert’s work and his approach to BDSM.
She also gives performative workshops and fasting retreats, integrating acting technics, personal growth, visualization, Yoga, Ipnsosis, BDSM, and Metageneaologie.
She believes that Art and Sex can change the world.
MARIO MASINI started his career as director of the photography in 1963. He was the camera for some legendary films, like “Padre Padrone“, that won the Golden Palm in Cannes in 1976. His filmography extend on more then 50 years, and contain some of the most talents directors like Carmelo Bene, Marco Ferreri, Vittorio and Paolo Taviani and many others. Mario is also a theater director, a painter, a sculptor and a Waldorf school teacher.
PILAR ALDEA lives in Formentera since 1988, she is photographer and film maker. She directed the “Consulta Films Bruxelles /Madrid" between 1995 and 2009, and created “Producion Como Mola“ in 2011.
She is also a very talented rigger and she performs Shibari since 2011.
is the pseudonym of a scenarist, editor, producer and director that works activily in the film business in France, since 1994.
GUIDO BANDINI is an italien director, eho had experience working in fiction and documentary, but also in video clip, video art, and commercial. Guido is also a painter and he occasionally teach editing
FLAVIE GUERRAND is a French photographer and filmmaker, who predominately focuses on drawing a portrait of a decadent youth both wild and fragile. People’s electric and sexy behavior, evolving in a environment where there is frustration, boneless, abuse, anxiety and desire.
She also organizes Ghetto Wrestling parties in Berlin, where the focus is on fun and performance, not on the fighting.
PATRICIA MAINCENT is a French-American artist living in Paris. Her visual work, drawings, films, photos, is nourished by trips, encounters and recycling. A sensitive collage between daily collect and hollywood samples, between fake autobiography and real fiction.
CHRISTOPH JACKSCHIES studied Audiovisuelle and has a bachelor as cameramann, he is also photographer and clown.
He will be filming and be the tecnical director of the xplore Film Crew.
THE PODCAST CREW
KATJA und PHILIPPE are two journalists working for the German public radio. They founded the audio podcast "Küchenradio".
XPLORE FILM SET
PARKER MARX is a British porn performer living in Berlin. Despite having worked in the industry for only two years, he has performed in movies across the spectrum of contemporary pornography. He works with co-performers of all genders and is featured in productions from pornographers like Erika Lust, Lucie Blush, Eurocreme, Blue Artichoke, and Ovidie. Parker’s rare mix of sensitivity, creativity, charm and passion shines off the screen, earning him a place as one of Europe's most sought after male perfomers. He is currently in production on a number of his own porn projects centering around psychological exploration, BDSM, and the eroticism of the uncanny.
He is this year at xplore responsabile of the XPLORE FILM SET.