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Kalup Linzy Likes It a Little Bit Off

December 21, 2012

What’s more important: production values or a good story? In this film, artist Kalup Linzy recounts the making of his video, Keys to Our Heart (2008), taking inspiration from black-and-white movies and music banned from the radio in the 1930s.

Drawing on his experiences lip-syncing songs at family gatherings, Linzy incorporates the process into his work by recording all of the dialogue with his own voice, modulating the pitch and tone, and enlisting friends to play the various parts. Linzy describes how the imperfections in his work give it a texture, creating layers and tension that enhance the storytelling.

Casting himself in drag as Lily, modeled after performances by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Linzy studies melodramatic gestures to bring the character to life. Keys to Our Heart features performances by Lawanda Hodges, Alison Folland, and Joshua Seidner.

More information and credits


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough & Wesley Miller. Cinematography: Andrew David Watson. Additional Camera: Don Edler & John Marton. Key Grip: John Marton. Sound: Nicholas Lindner. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Paulina V. Ahlstrom, Don Edler, Amanda Long & Maren Miller. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Kalup Linzy. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Kalup Linzy

Kalup Linzy was born in 1977 in Clermont, Florida, formerly worked in New York, and currently lives and works in Tampa, Florida. Linzy’s theatrical works challenge ideas of gender while embracing a wide range of pop cultural forms such as soap operas, drag performances, and censored movies and radio programs from the 1930s. He has developed nearly thirty characters based on stereotypical Hollywood figures and often performs them himself. Linzy works on all aspects of his productions—writing, directing, and filming—and he has combined his DIY aesthetic with high-profile collaborations with figures such as James Franco and Chloe Sevigny.