19/03/11 – 25/03/11
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz
This week a collection of impressive films by artist duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz is screened at Ellen de Bruijne Projects. Inspired by historical (portrait) photography and historical films, their focus lies in history of sex and gender discourses, as well as the significance of ‘visibility’ since early modernity.
Friday April 8, Pauline Boudry will be personally introduce their new book during the ‘happy-hour” talk in the gallery. Also the fascinating story will be told, on the making of their new films: “No Past” (presented by the gallery at Statements during Art Basel 2011), and “No Future” (presented at the Venice biennial).
Their latest film Contagious (2010) as well as Charming for the Revolution (2009) and N.O. Body (2008), will be shown for the first time at the gallery. Parallel on screening will be their earlier works Salomania (2009), and Normal Work (2007).
CONTAGIOUS, 2010, installation with film and 11 photographs, 12 min.
A study on late 19th century dances that questioned the bourgeois order is the central theme of “Contagious!”. The artists retrace the trend of “epileptic” dance, as well as Afro-American Cakewalk, both popular in Parisian cabarets around 1900. In the film ‘Contagious!’ the performers reembody two historical figures: Polaire, famous for her provocative, nervous, eccentric, and sexually aggressive epileptic dance style, and the New Yorker Aida Walker, who became extremly popular in Paris for her interpretation of the cakewalk. The title “Contagious!” plays with the idea, very common at the end of the 19th century, that one could be infected through the imitation of motions and gestures. Physicians claimed to have been infected because they had watched the tics of their patients too many times. The philosopher Paul Souriau also perceived dance shows as dangerous because of the mimetic and unconscious imitation of gestures by the spectators.
SALOMANIA, 2009, installation with film and 11 photographs, 17 min.
“Salomania” goes back in time to investigate the popular figure of Salomé at the turn of the 20th century, in particular in the eponymous 1922 Hollywood film by Russian dancer, silent-film star, and producer Alla Nazimova. The richest actress of her time spent her whole fortune to produce a nonstandard, modern film that was a commercial failure, sank into oblivion, and ruined her. For this re-interpretation, Boudry and Lorenz play with several levels of history: performer and artist Wu Ingrid Tsang, and famous choreographer and film-maker Yvonne Rainer, both based in Los Angeles, restage scenes that are based on the silent film, on Alla Nazimova’s life, and on contemporary research on Salomé. Besides, Yvonne Rainer was inspired by Nazimova’s dance of the seven veils for her own famous choreography “Valda’s Solo” (1973), which she in turn teaches to Wu Ingrid Tsang in this project.
CHARMING FOR THE REVOLUTION, 2009, installation with 16mm film and 6 photographs, 12 min.
With a wink to Jack Smith, the New York underground performer and filmmaker from the 60’s to the 80’s, as well as to the history of queer and feminist calls such as “wages for housework!”, the film recreates the “housewife” as an ambiguous figure with an open future. Additional references extend from Deleuze-Guattari’s becoming-animal, the Dandy of the 19th century, who out of protest against the clock pulse of the industrialisation walked turtles on leashes, as Walther Benjamin described him, to Pasolini’s ironic-capitalism critical film “The Hawks and the Sparrows”
N.O. BODY, 2008, installation with 16mm film and 47 photographs, 15 min.
The starting point of this project is the book “Sexology, Pictures” which was published in 1930 by Magnus Hirsfeld about the so-called ‘transition theory’. The book is filled with photographs and drawings of people in drag. In “N.O. Body” the performer re-enacts a photograph selected out of this book of the bearded lady and Barnum Circus star Annie Jones (1865–1902). The performer, mimicking Annie Jones, is positioned at the centre of a medicine lecture hall, where he stages an encounter with this photograph and performs a slide show that eventually turns into a laughing performance.
NORMAL WORK, 2007, installation with 16mm film and 13 photographs, 13 min.
“Normal Work” presents photographic portraits of Hannah Cullwick, a maid who lived in the Victorian times and who not only had a secret relationship with her poet and bourgeois lover, but also let herself be photographed sometimes as a slave, sometimes as a worldly lady, or as a gentleman. Their sadomasochistic relationship is illustrated by the discreet presence of an armband and a slave chain necklace in the pictures. Boudry and Lorenz review these strange documents and re-enact four of these photographs with drag performer Werner Hirsch.