“Fairy Fantastic” is a series of experimental, gender fluid folk and fairy tales for queer kids of all ages. The creators, Hilary Harp and Suzie Silver have been collaborating on videos, installations, and performances since 2003.
“Fairy Fantastic!” adapts traditional folk and fairy tales, to feature the broadest possible range of gender expressions and kinship bonds. The first video, “The Sausage,” was begun in the summer of 2014, funded by a grant from Carnegie Mellon University’s Frank Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier, and was completed in January, 2015. On the one hand, the stories in “Fairy Fantastic” appear to be radical revisions of familiar tales, including alternative gender-presentations and kinship structures not usually associated with family programming. On the other hand, our stories seek to recuperate the raucous and rebellious bodily and utopian aspects of the traditional folk tale, which have sometimes been purged in puritanical body-loathing bourgeois interpretations.
Our means of production have always been decidedly DIY. Working with small budgets, using friends and students as performers, we practice a kind of opulent “cinema povera” in which magical effects are achieved with minimal means. In part this is an extension of our identification with “folk” culture. It is an approach greatly influenced by the early magic cinema master Georges Méliès. Hand-crafted, seams-showing illusions resulting from a combination of practical and digital special effects have been a hallmark of all of our projects. In the case of FF! this knit-together image is in sync with the themes of hybridity and metamorphosis, common to both folk/fairy tales and queer politics.
One key aim of queer cultural production is to replace a singular and repressive “normal” with a multiplicity of genders, sexualities and kinship bonds. Folk and fairy tales are an ideal vehicle for this intervention because their subjects: deep structural concepts, like wild vs domestic; male vs female; human vs non-human; are the same categories that LGBTQIA communities have sought to liberate from binary thinking.
Trained in sculpture at Parsons School of Design (BFA), Tyler School of Art (MFA), and at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Hilary Harp creates sculptures, installations and media projects and videos. Harp has exhibited her work widely nationally and internationally since 1995. Harp’s awards include a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a Heinz Creative Heights Grant, and an Arizona Commission on the Arts Project Grant. She has been awarded residencies at The Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, RI, Kohler Center for Arts/Industry in Sheboygan, WI. Harp is Associate Professor of Sculpture at Arizona State University.
Suzie Silver has been creating queer performance and video art for more than two decades. Her earliest well-known videos, Freebird, A Spy and The Look of Love use performance, appropriation and collage to create spaces for queer desire to exist within popular culture. A love of science fiction and a life-long commitment to imagining alternate desires lead her to instigate the book/DVD project Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities. Current projects include: Trans-Q Television a playful and provocative, collaboratively created, video variety show celebrating the multiplicities of genders and sexualities; and with Hilary Harp, Fairy Fantastic! All of Silver’s work alludes to the capacity for desire to disrupt social boundaries and imagine new futures. Her work has exhibited and screened widely nationally and internationally.