2018 Sundance Docs in Focus: NARCISSISTER ORGAN PLAYER

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by PJ Norman

Against the backdrop of her provocative and inventive performance, Narcissister reflects on the personal impact of her mother’s illness and death.

Festival Section:
New Frontier

Sundance Program Description:

American performance artist Narcissister takes a smart, sassy, spectacle-rich approach to exploring the kinds of sexual fetishism that notoriously fix racial and gender stereotypes. She combines unabashed eroticism, humor, and poignancy to stretch viewers’ sensibilities and achieve surprising psychic effects. NARCISSISTER ORGAN PLAYER is originally a Bessie Awards-nominated performance that takes place in a metaphorical restaurant where Narcissister, unsated by a few spinach leaves, tries to eat the restaurant furniture and ends up “consuming herself” by entering and traveling through her own body, represented by an enormous onstage puppet. As the performance plays out on stage, in real life, her mother’s long-term illness brings on a decline that ends in death. The artist’s loss provokes an exploration of how her own complex, interracial family history has compelled her to create the masked, erotic performance character Narcissister.

Enriched by Martha Colburn’s original animation, NARCISSISTER ORGAN PLAYER is a hybrid personal documentary/performance film that is a vibrant portrait of a family, a radical artistic practice, and an exploration of how ancestral data is stored in our bodies, impacting the lives we lead.

Some Background:

  • Narcissister

    The performance artist has presented her work at MoMA PS1, The New Museum, Abrons Art Center, The Kitchen, Participant Inc, and ArtBasel Miami, among many others. This marks her first project at Sundance.


  • Taryn Gould

    Gould most recently produced and edited the Academy Awards shortlisted short doc RAM DASS, GOING HOME and the Hot Docs-premiering feature doc SUSANNE BARTSCH: ON TOP. This is her Sundance debut.

Additional Editor:

  • Bara Jichova Tyson

    This is also Tyson’s first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
Narcissister’s work is thought-provoking and always surprising, involving jaw-dropping transformations, elaborate costumes and puppetry, humor, and a refreshingly confrontational focus on the body and gender. This creative hybrid work provides viewers with intimate insight into the artist’s creative process and inspiration.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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