Björk is an artist who has never compromised on her extravagantly avant-garde vision, who does everything on her own terms, who is fearless when it comes to reinventing herself. Even as she's exposing herself lyrically, somehow she remains an enigmatic presence—intriguing, mesmerizing, and idiosyncratic.
She's also been an inspiration to queer artists around the globe. Several in Seattle are paying their respects in Human Behaviour: Drag Does Björk at the Timbre Room on September 1. It's a group of uniquely unconventional queens.
Among the performers is show organizer and conceiver Old Witch, a decades-long Björk fan who says the merging of striking visuals and elaborate costumery with music and performance is so integral to the Björk experience, and so integral to the drag experience, that "it just seemed like a natural melding."
Old Witch is also drawn to what Björk represents and what made her a queer icon in the first place, "that idea of transcending your human form, transcending society, transcending the trappings that keep you unable to be integrated into the society, and embracing those things that make you weird."
The reasons behind each queen's participation vary. One credits Björk's visual and performance artistry, as well as a deeply personal connection, having found solace in her 2015 breakup album Vulnicura while battling some heavy depression.
Faggoty Anne says Björk played an essential role in their feminine power liberation. Miss Texas 1988 doesn't necessarily have a personal connection to Björk, but loves her work and is fascinated with how it will be translated into drag. Americano accepted an invite onto the bill because of a simple appreciation of Björk's work.
The individual performances and their content will vary greatly, too. Collectively, they'll tell a story that will take the audience on a journey through the different styles, sounds, artistry, and visual representations of Björk, including the notorious swan dress she wore to the 73rd Oscars.
"There will be some re-creations of some of her looks, interpretations of some of her music, some covers and remixes, as well as some inspirations of different artwork that she's been involved with, different outfits that she's worn, but taking it to another level," Old Witch explains. "This isn't celebrity impersonation. This is something different, something that I think she'd be proud of."
Old Witch explained that part of the challenge in developing her own performance was striking the balance between being true to Björk and to her own drag persona, which she described as "very dark and brutal and kind of hard to look at and hard to stomach at times." She'll be tapping into the part of Björk that has most influenced her, the idea of taking beauty and stretching it, because that's what she does as Old Witch—stretch the idea of what is beautiful.
Don't go into this show expecting tracks off Björk's most recognizable playlist. Do go in expecting an earnest homage dosed with camp, a feast for the eyes and soul. "This is going to be some of the most out-there, avant-garde fashions people have seen."