With its 5:20 min., Lupi Lupi Lu is probably the shortest musical in the world and yet amazingly complete, finished, round and surprising in every way. With this film, Adam Castle deals with his diagnosis of the insidious autoimmune disease lupus (Latin wolf – and more precisely: systemic lupus erythematosus) and his refusal for ten years to inform himself about the disease and to accept it for himself, despite the repeated occurrence of the typical symptom known as butterfly rash – a butterfly-shaped rash on the face.
But Castle has also produced a very original and, despite its tragic content, funny and surprising film with Lupi Lupi Lu. Characterized by a queer and multiple identity concept, it is a very unique artistic approach to dealing with illness, formally as refreshing and simple as professionally implemented. Specially composed and recorded music, light, sound, and editing – everything fits, nothing is too much. Moments of childlike play intertwine with those reminiscent of films by David Lynch or Denis Villeneuve and elements from the mainstream of the musical universe. Autobiographical elements are interwoven with strictly formal aesthetics, personal-authenticity with fictional artificiality to create a successful borderline hike.
Two people in animal costumes play and sing in a smaller theater space, but in front of and beside the stage and in the auditorium, never on stage. They personify, in flying changes without transition, illness and patient, actor and audience, wolf and butterfly – the two animals that stand for the illness and one of its most well-known symptoms. Singing, poetically complexly interwoven and gathered together, they embody different sceneries, stages, and inner states on the way to the slow acceptance of the disease and let us participate in this sympathetic and partly humorous way, without overexerting us, but also without trivializing. (Stefan Panhans)
I create moving image, performance and drag and to explore themes such as queer desire, illness and the relationship between audience and performer. Lupi Lupi Lu is a musical film about the experience of diagnosis, specifically the illness lupus that I have. The film features two people, one dressed as a wolf – lupus means wolf in Latin – and one dressed as a butterfly – a common lupus rash is known as a butterfly rash. The film is set in a theatre and, with blue medical curtains paired with red velvet stage curtains, it echoes the uncomfortable feeling of being on show when in hospital. Previous works include Tonight No More (2018), a performance in a music museum with video installation with live organ about final goodbyes, and Entertainment (2017), a musical film about on stage desire. I run queer cabaret collective Pollyanna, where I host as the feral drag creature Pollyfilla. As ScotsGay magazine said »It's a show, a happening, a movement … you’re life is poorer for not having been yet.« (Adam Castle)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist.
Images: Adam Castle, Lupi Lupi Lu, 2019 © Adam Castle