Barbara Rubin 1945-1980
Christmas on Earth (1963)
Barbara Rubin’s 29-minute Christmas on Earth is the filmic record of an orgy staged in a New York City apartment in 1963. This double projection of overlapping images of nude men and women clowning around and making love is one of the first sexually explicit works in the American postwar avant-garde. Today Christmas on Earth generates a small but passionate discourse in avant-garde film circles. Many consider it to be an essential document of queer and feminist cinema, though others dismiss it as the worthless effort of a naive amateur. It is still largely unknown to art history. Christmas on Earth in fact deserves to be located within a larger esthetic discourse on contemporary art forms such as Happenings, expanded cinema, and installation. Rubin “was one of the first people to get multimedia interest going around New York,” Andy Warhol said. Further, Rubin’s filmmaking practices were a type of performance and sexual agitprop that foreshadowed the emergence of critical body art at the end of the 1960s. An investigation into the little-known history of Barbara Rubin and her singular work Christmas on Earth deepens our understanding of a period when artists pushed self-determined and guiltless sexuality into the public sphere to catalyze social revolution. -- from Barbara Rubin: The Vanished Prodigy by Daniel Belasco