WEST COAST PREMIERE: In the early 19th century, a Colombian named Martina was investigated by the colonial court for being a hermaphrodite, after being accused by her female lover of having an “unnatural body.” Meanwhile, in the Ottoman Empire, a woman named Nour is married off to the brother of her lover after her mother finds the two women together in bed. Part documentary and part fiction, the film presents these parallel stories as an imagined correspondence between the two women, exposing the ways in which medicine, law, religion, and tradition have shaped dominant discourses of the gendered and sexual body. Separated by geography, culture, and religion they both faced the consequences of defying sex and gender norms.

Deseos (co-written by Motta and Maya Mikdashi) will be preceded by Motta’s Nefandus, in which two men—one indigenous, the other Spanish-speaking—travel by canoe through the “wild beauty” of the Colombian Caribbean, telling stories of pecados nefandos (unspeakable sins, abominable acts) that took place during the conquest of the Americas.

Carlos Motta was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and currently lives and works in New York. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the New Museum, MoMA PS1, Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, the Tate Modern, and the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros in México City, among others. He has also been featured in group exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, SFMOMA, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Witte de With, Jeu de Paume, and Castello di Rivoli in Turin, as well as in the Lyon Biennale, the Gwangju Biennale, the Gothenburg International Biennale of Contemporary Art, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Deseos  ⁄ تابغر [Desires] (2015) was commissioned and produced by Council (France) and co-produced by Hordaland Kunstsenter (Norway), MALBA, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Röda Sten Konsthall (Sweden), Galeria Filomena Soares (Portugal), Mor.Charpentier Galerie (France) and with further support from Ashkal Alwan (Lebanon), DICRéAM (France) and the Göteborg International Biennal for Contemporary Art (Sweden).