Made in Hollywood. 1990. USA. Directed by Bruce Yonemoto, Norman Yonemoto

Drama Queens: The Soap Opera in Experimental and Independent Cinema

June 4–19, 2011 The Museum of Modern Art

“Melodrama is a combination of kitsch, and craziness, and trashiness,” Douglas Sirk once observed. “There is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains the element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art.” Drama Queens is an archival exhibition that explores the ways in which filmmakers have reinvented, deconstructed, or parodied the Hollywood melodrama. Artists include Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Dara Birnbaum, Stan Brakhage, Ximena Cuevas, Hollis Frampton, George Kuchar, Kalup Linzy, Tony Oursler, Yvonne Rainer, Andy Warhol, and John Waters. Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows (1955) and its two brilliant and provocative remakes, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Angst essen Seele Auf (Ali: Fear Eats the Soul) (1974) and Todd Haynes’s Far from Heaven (2002) form the cornerstone of the exhibition.

“The type of character I am interested in, and which I tried to retain in melodrama, is the doubtful, the ambiguous, the uncertain, “ Sirk continues. “I am interested in circularity, in the circle—people arriving at the place they started out from. This is why you will find what I call tragic rondos in many of my films, people going in circles.” Yvonne Rainer, who makes this tragic rondo the central choreographic motif in her Lives of Performers (1972), notes that “melodrama is the place where behavior and theater meet.” Typical of the works in this exhibition, her film captures the “unalleviated intensity of emotion characteristic of soap opera, where everything is always in crisis or climax.”

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film.


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or, please email If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to