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Memory Bank & Play Us Something From Your Back Catalogue: the Kellygirls throw a wake and garage sale


by Drew Rowsome -

Memory Bank runs 'til Thurs, July 19 at Cylinder Sound & Film Ltd, 165 John St, 3rd floor. 
Play Us Something From Your Back Catalogue is available on iTunes with some limited edition vinyl and CDs available from Kelly Clipperton. kellyclipperton.com

The summons was vague even by Kelly Clipperton's usual verbose standards. It seemed there was a Kelly and the Kellygirls greatest hits album in the offing. And there was to be a listening party. And a photography retrospective. Then the greatest hits became a swan song, Kelly and the Kellygirls were to be no more. And the photography exhibit was the closing of a chapter. All billed as a "Launch Party/Reception." Memory Bank/Play Us Something From Your Back Catalogue turned out not to be, as expected, the first of many farewell final performances, but rather an elegant garage sale attached to a wake.

Ever the diva, Clipperton gave a heartfelt speech explaining that he wasn't retiring from the arts but rather from "the pressure" of making art for any reason other the sheer joy of expressing and creating. He thanked his supportive partner Joe, those who posed for the photographs, and the revolving door members of The Kellygirls. "There were a lot of them," he quipped. "And I'm still talking to some of them." Play Us Something From Your Back Catalogue is after all a greatest hits album with the addition of two new songs including "The Stars in the Brights of Your Eyes Have Gone Out." "I will sing in the future," vowed Clipperton, "But I don't know what it will turn into."

The walls of the recording studio where the "Launch Party/Reception" was held have been transformed into a gallery with a collection of Clipperton's photographic work from across the decades. Some are familiar from previous exhibits, some are personal (a stunning photograph of him and Joe in their early romance), and some are, like the extraordinary interpretation of the persona of Patricia Wilson (Clipperton also shot the photos for Crackpuppy's Vintage Porn CD), are "From a series I started but just never followed through for some reason."

The photos that are on the walls, and are [emphasized] for sale, are a partial history of the gay art scene in Toronto as seen through Clipperton's role in it. There are many familiar faces and body parts - some in attendance, some in the "what ever happened to?" category - lending Clipperton's chapter closing an epochal feel. The photographs are beautiful, some saturated with colour, some swirling in smoky mystery, all dusted with glitter, and, despite being a sampling, have a lot to say about celebrity, attempted celebrity, glamour, the gay eye and the facades and the glamorous costumes or calculated nudity we wear to make life more to our fantasy images of ourselves.

A creative force like Clipperton, he's still busy with his stylist business, won't be "retired" for long. He hinted at "short films" which makes sense after conceptualizing so many videos. And most in attendance had no doubt that he will soon be applying his rich baritone to some musical endeavour that will surface, growing Deeper and Deeper

Memory Bank runs 'til Thurs, July 19 at Cylinder Sound & Film Ltd, 165 John St, 3rd floor. 
Play Us Something From Your Back Catalogue is available on iTunes with some limited edition vinyl and CDs available from Kelly Clipperton. kellyclipperton.com

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