Lilia Prado is a Superstar

This symposium is organized in connection with Queer Cultural Year 2022, by Hendrik Folkerts (Curator of International Contemporary Art, Moderna Museet, Stockholm) and Solveig Øvstebø (Director Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo).

The symposium Lilia Prado is a Superstar is organized in the context of an act of remembrance that juxtaposes two years that may or may not have anything to do with each other: 1972 and 2022. The years between them mark the leap from the Norwegian court decriminalizing a sexual act between two men towards a year-long celebration of queer culture in Norway. The occasion prompts various questions about how we are imagining, making, performing, writing queer histories—as well as the real, speculative, found, imagined iconographies and genealogies informing them.

In 1984, Mexican-Dutch artist, editor, and curator Ulises Carrión organized a film festival at De Appel arts centre in Amsterdam in honor of Lilia Prado. A Marilyn Monroe-figure avant la lettre, Prado emerged in the 1940s as one of the great stars of the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. By the 1980s, however, the stardust had settled and in fact, very few people in Amsterdam had even heard of her.

Carrión went to Mexico in search of his superstar and her films. The Lilia Prado Superstar Film Festival took place in the midst of summer in various cities in the Netherlands. In his video work The LPS File (1985), Carrión used the documentary genre to narrate the not-so-smooth organization of the festival. Truth and evidence are elusive protagonists in the film, as the artist substituted all his Mexican contacts for contacts and friends from the Dutch art world, and the lingua franca shifting from Spanish to English.

Carrión’s Lilia Prado is a heterogenous figure, at once a celebrated icon, a displaced celebrity, a porous memento, and, perhaps most importantly, a site of projection for parafictional and speculative queer desires. A found icon in an unstable queer genealogy. Carrión said: “Don’t you think that my gesture, my choice of Lilia Prado, is just as arbitrary as [Marcel] Duchamp’s gesture?… Lilia Prado is my readymade.”

Lilia Prado is a superstar.

The case of Lilia Prado suggests an approach to queer genealogy beyond linear time, state-sanctioned narratives around the il/legitimacy of sexuality, and the annals of history with two n’s. Carrión’s Prado will be a guiding light in this historiographic intervention—this symposium on how we can create icons, make time, and write stories that are utterly false and indelibly true.   

With: Christian Bendayán, Gregg Bordowitz, Elizabeth Freeman, Abdellah Taïa, Arnisa Zeqo, and others. The full program will be announced soon.

Dates: October 21 (evening) and October 22, 2022
Location: Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo.

Organized by: Hendrik Folkerts (Curator of International Contemporary Art, Moderna Museet, Stockholm) and Solveig Øvstebø (Director Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo).

Image: Video still from Ulises Carrión, The LPS File (1985). Courtesy LIMA.