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Michelle handelman
These Unruly and Ungovernable Selves
Experimental video | 4k | color | 6'0'' | USA | 2020
Michelle Handelman’s new video piece, THESE UNRULY AND UNGOVERNABLE SELVES (The Lockdown), recontextualizes characters from her previous works into a hypnotic visual essay about the transfiguring of interiority during periods of isolation and fear. It takes as its starting point the coronavirus pandemic and filters it through theorist Jill Casid’s writings on the necrocene, and Walter Benjamin's writings from The Arcade’s Project, sliding between threshold and boundaries, considering how bioterrorism may not only be an intentional release of viruses, but it may also be what lives inside, our own fear that late stage capitalism uses to destroy us. Handelman's characters, who each have already struggled with existential questions of belonging and fear in her projects DORIAN, A CINEMATIC PERFUME (2009/11); IRMA VEP, THE LAST BREATH (2013/15); and HUSTLERS & EMPIRES (2018), are juxtaposed with found images and texts sourced during the pandemic to take on a new form that both denies and struggles with containment. Casid writes, “May none of us rest as we live our dying. May we not forget but actually do the work of reckoning with the still uncounted, of the crimes of the endless war we are still in.”
Michelle Handelman is a visual artist, filmmaker, and writer whose work pushes against the boundaries of gender, race and sexuality. Coming up through the years of the AIDS crisis and Culture Wars, Handelman has built a body of work that investigates the dark and uncomfortable spaces of queer identity. She is a Creative Capital awardee (2019); Guggenheim Fellow (2011); Art Matters Awardee (2011) and NYFA Fellow (2011). She has exhibited widely including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, PERFORMA Biennial, MIT List Visual Arts Center, PARTICIPANT, INC, The Henry Art Gallery; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Guangzhou 53 Art Museum; Film at Lincoln Center, The British Film Institute, and Centre Georges Pompidou. During the 1990s, Handelman was based in San Francisco where she collaborated with Monte Cazazza, a pioneer of the Industrial music scene; directed the feature film BloodSisters: Leather, Dykes and Sadomasochism (1995), and performed in several films by Lynn Hershman-Leeson. Her work has been written about in Bomb Magazine, Artforum, Art in America, Filmmaker Magazine, and The New York Times, and is in many private collections including the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; di Rosa Foundation and Preserve; Zabludowicz Art Trust. She is based in Brooklyn and is a Professor in the Film, Media and Performing Arts department at Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC.