Maryland Senate Committee Passes Fairness for All Marylanders Act
February 21, 2014
Photos: Hump Day Treat
February 22, 2014

WITCHES of Bushwick Invade D.C.

Witches of Bushwick

WITCHES of Bushwick (Photo: veer nyc)

WITCHES and American Reflexxx filmmakers bring their art to Zami DC

If you’ve never been to one of the Zami DC events at Busboys and Poets, this monthly series is used to creating and nurturing discussions about the intersections of sexuality, gender, race, and human rights. Bringing in artists like Staceyann Chin and Mattilda B. Sycamore, Zami DC sets the stage for LGBTQ and feminist based artists from all over the United States.

In an electric blend of the D.C. and NYC queer, feminist art communities, this Thursday, February 27, Zami DC is being taken over by the WITCHES of Bushwick, where the collaborative will be screening the powerful and revealing, short film American Reflexxx.

Co-founded by lesbian trendsetters and D.C. area natives, Anne Alexander and Christine Tran, WITCHES has been featured in New York Magazine, The New York Times and was even named one of the “Seven Parties Changing New York Nightlife” by New Now Next. Though their parties are a staple in the Bushwick queer community, the coven is open and welcoming to all.

“WITCHES is an artist focused collaborative that creates and produces platforms, whether physical or digital – conceptualizing and creating new ways to engage people.” Though they are not actual witches and focus more on the idea of being an outcast and the strength of an eclectic group of like minds, their monthly events have been known to feature such entertainment as getting your tarot read to even getting tattooed. The reach of the WITCHES of Bushwick is ever expanding and all-embracing; from pop-up events and record release parties to recently releasing both a calendar and the first issue of the semi-annual Coven Magazine this month. The WITCHES reach seems to know no bounds, even recently starting a “coven” in Sydney, Australia. As they grow, Alexander explains why she and Tran find it imperative to include the D.C. community.

“Christine and I are both from the D.C. area, Fairfax, [Virginia], to be exact, and we’ve been looking for an opportunity to bring WITCHES ‘home’ in a sense. We were just waiting for the right moment and the perfect project,” says Alexander. “I think that American Reflexxx and the collaboration with Busboys and Zami offers us that opportunity.”

Fellow witches and area natives, Signe Pierce and Alli Coates are also looking forward to bringing their art back to the D.C. community with their shocking short film American Reflexxx.

American Reflexxx started off as an idea for a performance art-style experiment, but became very real and completely unplanned. The escalating violence ends up peeling back a layer of American society to reveal a raw and disturbing truth. Set in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the almost painfully standard, American setting is another element that is said to make this film so eye opening.  The filmmakers describes the setting as “representing the pinnacle of classic, red-blooded American values.”

“Essentially, American Reflexxx is a social experiment gone awry. Signe dressed as a stripper in a mirrored, cyborgian mask, and I filmed her as she walked down the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach. We agreed not to communicate until the experiment was over. We had no idea the outcome would be so extreme,” explains Coates. “When the crowd began to get violent I was shocked, but I knew Signe would break character if she really wanted me to intervene. And she never did. She never took her mask off or said a word, so I kept filming. By the very end she told me, through the mask, that blood was pouring out of her knee. The cops broke it all up after that.”

Realizing that they were capturing a very significant face of American society, despite the growing crowd of tormentors, Pierce never broke her provocative, faceless character.

“Near the end, I was starting to genuinely fear for my safety and felt panicked, but I didn’t want to cheapen the act by surrendering. It was important to me that I didn’t let these people who were trying to hurt me think that they had won by breaking me down and getting me to take off my mask,” says Pierce. “Placing myself in the middle of an unruly crowd where I was the ‘outsider’, provided me with a first-hand account of just how terrifying this world is for so many people who don’t fit into the status quo.”

Though many people spend the duration of the film feeling anxious, the simplicity of the experiment leaves it open for viewer interpretation.

“It hits a different note with anyone that watches it because the viewer is bringing their own background and opinion to the table,” says Coates. “We first screened it in Miami in December during Art Basel, and much of the discussion was in reference to this being a piece of video art. In D.C., I think the discussion will be more political and more focused on the human rights and transphobia issues that the film raises.”

The WITCHES event and screening will be held Thursday, February 27 from 7 – 9 p.m. at the 14th Street Busboys and Poets location. There will be a full bar and menu, and there is a suggested donation of $5 – $10. A free after-party at Black Whiskey will follow the event. The after-party will feature DJ sets by WITCHES and DJ CA$$IDY.

So go find something black to wear or if you must, a big, awkward, Zoe Benson style hat a la American Horror Story and come out and join the coven as you drink, dance, get inspired and meet a community of like minds.