4 October – 2 November 2019
Eike Wittrock on Julius Hans Spiegel

The Island Club presents Island Drag, a collection of archival documents on queer dancer Julius Hans Spiegel, accompanied by a text by Eike Wittrock.

Julius Hans Spiegel was a deaf queer Jewish artist, born in Berlin in 1891. After studying painting in Berlin and Munich, he gained fame with his interpretations of Indonesian dances in the 1920s, performing in theatres, cinemas, art galleries, and queer venues across continental Europe. Fleeing Berlin in the 1930s, he settled on the Italian island of Capri, where he lived for forty years until his death, frequently appearing dressed as a Capri fisherman. At the same time, he created outlandish outfits, combining Indonesian batik prints with fishnet shirts and African masks, which he showcased in dance performances at his home. Island Drag is a constellation of historic documents focusing on Spiegel’s idiosyncratic approach to costume and performance practice – an ambiguous form of racial masquerade or “ethnic drag”, both subversive and affirmative in a queer theatre of identity. The archival material, selected by dance historian and curator Eike Wittrock, is presented alongside an essay in which Wittrock looks at Spiegel’s practice as a paradigm for an alternative reading of dance history.

As a prelude to Island Drag, and in collaboration with Dance House Lemesos and the Multimedia and Arts Department of the Cyprus University of Technology, Eike Wittrock will also give a lecture titled Archive Drag. The lecture discusses historiographical and curatorial approaches to archival dance documents, particularly in relation to the estates of Julius Hans Spiegel and Egon Wüst, both of which contain extensive yet distinct references to the male Mediterranean body. Reflection on these archives prompts a number of questions: how do dancing bodies queer locality and temporality? How do they operate in changing political circumstances? What modality of embodiment is contained in “drag”, and what sorts of artistic responses does such material produce today?

The lecture will take place on 3 October 2019, 18:00–19:30, at the Cyprus University of Technology Photography Studio (Heroes’ Square), and it was made possible through the support of Goethe-Institut Zypern.

Eike Wittrock is a dance historian and curator, currently teaching at the University of Hildesheim. His research focuses on 19th and 20th century European dance – its iconographic sources, the politics of the archive, and queer and exoticist performances. He is currently working on a large research project on German queer theatre and performance history. His curatorial projects include Politics of Ecstasy (2009); Julius-Hans-Spiegel-Zentrum (2014/2016); The Greatest Show on Earth – A Performance Circus for the 21st century (Kampnagel International Summer Festival, 2016). He has served as co-curator for the Kampnagel International Summer Festival (2013–2016), as jury member for the German Dance Platform 2016, and as curatorial advisor for the Tanzkongress 2019.