35th Bienal de São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec 2023
Free Admission
35th Bienal de
São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec
Exhibition view of Leilah Weinraub's work SHAKEDOWN during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Leilah Weinraub

In SHAKEDOWN (2018), time is a habitat, as stated by director Leilah Weinraub. For over ten years, between 2002 and 2014, Weinraub brought together an archive of interviews and videos of the Shakedown striptease club, by and for Black lesbians, in Los Angeles – by that time at the brink of gentrification and plagued by police brutality. Disrupting the linear and consecutive Western conception by evoking temporalities and spatialities that intertwine past, present, and future, Weinraub presents a 72-minutes-long research-work disassembled in more than 400 hours of footage, flyers, and numerous photographs produced when the artist worked as a photographer and video-lady at the club that lends the film its title. The result is an intimate, bold, and celebratory experience-film of African American lesbianity.

In 2020, SHAKEDOWN became the first non-pornographic film released on Pornhub. The film, which turns the stories of Ronnie-Ron and the Shakedown Angels − Egypt, Ms Mahogany, and Jazmyne − into a montage of new sensibilities, visualities, and temporalities, is a document in which many layers intersect, such as the indagations about what is work? and its connection to the individual as well as to privacy, money, power, erotism, arousal, affection, intimacy, performative personas, illegality, fluid sexualities, families, the concepts of cinema and image, time, and the club as a haven and a possibility of being. To the unsuspecting, SHAKEDOWN could be understood as a documentary about the resistance of the underground scene in Los Angeles, a capital and a queer haven in the United States, but Weinraub resists the idea of calling the film a documentary and defines it as being “its own capsule,”, captured in a specific moment as a space for curiosity and fantasy. But, beyond all that, what Weinraub made in SHAKEDOWN was a visceral work of art.

barbara copque
translated from Portuguese by bruna barros and jess oliveira

Leilah Weinraub (Los Angeles, USA. Lives between New York and Los Angeles) is an artist-filmmaker. Her most notable work is the cult documentary SHAKEDOWN – which premiered in the 2017 Whitney Biennial (New York, USA) before becoming the first ever film to stream on Pornhub, landing on the Criterion Channel in the summer of 2020. In addition to filmmaking, Weinraub has also served as co-founder, creative director and CEO of the award winning fashion brand Hood By Air.