Envy/Desire and Jōso

23 February 2024  7:30pm  – 9:30pm

Event type: Screening, discussion

In advance of our launch in April, Verdurin presents a double-bill screening of films by David Panos and Aimee Armstrong, accompanied by a Q&A discussion led by Nina Power.

What is the relationship between gender and the economy? How do men and women understand themselves in the wake of financialisation and the post-war explosion of sexualised images? As economies no longer rely on sexual difference to differentiate employment or consumerism, to be a man or a woman becomes ever more elusive.

Josō and Envy/Desire invite us to reflect on great social shifts that nevertheless reveal themselves in the smallest and most delicate of arenas – clothes, gestures, mannerisms. Can we find humour and even freedom in the play of gender, or are we all doomed to merely perform symptoms of larger forces?


David Panos, Sharon Kinsella

2020, 42′

Josō (女装) Joso is a collaboration between academic and researcher Sharon kinsella and artist filmmaker David Panos that explores the nature of male reaction and sentiment on the cusp of transformation in contemporary Japan.

Filmic flow through Tokyo, Saitama and Fukushima captures signs and context of the heavily ideological and yet ambiguously gendered presence built into the grey-toned and somewhat washed-out architecture of contemporary urban environment. Urban Japan in the mid-2010s is seen in sluggish motion under the enthusiastic and benign gazes of enormous girls’ faces screened and posted throughout the city.

Interleaved in this macro-landscape the film closes in on the micro-gestures and movements of both unknown people and specific anthropological respondents in gendered postures. As the film unfolds a subtler understanding of this deeply-layered topic emerges. There are signs that the girl is the new model commuter and employee: cheap, flexible, neat, cooperative and enthusiastic.

Under the implicit instructions of the gendered environment young men are witnessed engaged in complex reactions: cross-dressing, de-masculinizing, idolizing and mocking. Close interaction and conversation with young men involved with specific recent subcultures – otoko no ko (cross dressing as girls) and himote (demanding rights for ‘men without’ women) – appear in the film.

In some instances these filmed respondents are seen performing voluntary actions for the camera gaze, and in other cuts respondents are seen miming the physical gestures of their employment (typically manual and repetitive), bringing into visible interaction traces of there working lives and their sartorial and gendered imagination of themselves.

While based on ethnographic fieldwork carried out gradually over the 2010s the camera does not employ a documentary gaze on ‘talking heads’ but captures intimate movements of the hands, body movement, and the textures and reflections of drinks, clothes, and accessories. Focus on bodily gesture and voice also works to discourage Orientalist and essentialist desire for the film. This is not a film about ‘Japan’. It is a film about a stage of male passage into a new social order that can be seen in different permutations across the post-industrial world.

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Aimee Armstrong

2024, 20′

New York transsexual socialite Bella thinks she has scored the masculine hetero man of her dreams. The illusion shatters when her friend Natasha tells her Ethan, might not be the man she thinks he is, he might not want to be a man at all.

Envy/Desire is a film about a relationship doomed to fail, about a man using his girlfriend to explore his repressed sexual desires. 

Film credits

Written and Directed by Aimee Armstrong
Producer Aimee Armstrong, Cameron Lee, NB Anna Udras
Starring Aimee Armstrong, George Olesky, Salomé, Connor William Wright, Katya Austin, Lucy Pengally 
Original Score by Flynn Armstrong
Director of Photography Cameron Lee
Editor Angry Kitty
2nd Editor Asher Bentley 
First AD Tess Raskin
2nd AD Page Garcia 
Gaffer: Chris Vermazen
Assistant Camera Mikey Fader
Makeup Charlotte Kraftman
Sound Recordist Eamon Redpath
Sound Design Grant Lepping
VFX Asher Bentley, Flynn Armstrong
On set security Charley Shealy
Exec Producer Richard Turnbull

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  • Aimee Armstrong

    Aimee Armstrong’s work portrays modern relationships in a post-internet, post-woke, post-infographic world.

  • Nina Power

    Nina Power is a philosopher and critic.