Weight

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Andrew de Freitas’s Weight is a portrait of trans musician Lees Brenson, who performs under the name Dregqueen.

“Weight largely takes the form of an interview in which de Freitas asks Brenson about her life and work. Handheld shots frame her face in close-up, with jump cuts occasionally interrupting the flow of recorded time. This is, however, no exercise in cinéma vérité, but a complex negotiation of the boundaries of truth and fiction, particularly as they pertain to competing image economies and the actualization of the self. De Freitas begins by prompting Brenson to reflect on footage viewed on a laptop of a young man on a Kiev street corner, dressed in a mattress costume and waving a flag, tasked with advertising to the passing vehicles. De Freitas and Brenson speak of the images as if they represent her past, but something is awry: the cars seen in the Ukrainian footage appear to be of relatively recent vintage, and Brenson’s accent is decidedly Canadian. And yet through the uncertain artifice of this encounter, something genuine of Brenson’s reality begins to emerge, as she speaks of her feelings about work, comfort, weight, and music.

De Freitas blends heterogeneous image textures, weaving the crispness of the interview images with murkier performance footage, documentation of the Kiev street corner, and pixelated Russian-language advertisements for mattresses and bedroom furniture in which women levitate and all families are happy, well rested, and heterosexual. De Freitas’s recontextualization of these ads shows up the sinister falseness of their spell, particularly when they are accompanied by the industrial sounds of Dregqueen and her entreaty, “I want to feel your weight.” What appears first as an individual portrait gradually metamorphoses into something much larger: an effort to puncture the monopolization of reality by the forces of normativity. Against essentialist conceptions of gender, and against capitalist attempts to narcotize the masses through the drug of consumption, Weight recovers the power of antagonism and contestation, claiming the right to craft the contours of one’s own existence. “

- Erika Balsom from the text Truth or Consequences, commissioned by CIRCUIT (2018)