14 December 2012 – 24 February 2013
South London Gallery, First Floor Galleries
Preview 13 December 2012, 6:30 – 8:30pm download e-invite
For their first solo presentation in the UK, Berlin-based artist duo Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz present the film installations Toxic (2012) and Salomania (2009) in the South London Gallery’s first floor gallery spaces. The artists describe the show as being ‘a toxic play in two acts’ bringing together a homage to the underground performance artist and filmmaker, Jack Smith, and a performance by Yvonne Rainer and Wu Tsang.
Boudry/Lorenz’s distinctive treatment of the moving image, their use of film loops as a mode of performance in itself, and the fluency and pleasure of their cinematography has gained them widespread international acclaim, yet this exhibition is the first solo presentation of their work in the UK. Together they stage the actions of individuals and groups living – indeed thriving – in defiance of convention, law and economy. Producing plays for the camera, they upset normative historical narratives and inclusions through the staging, projection and layering of moments and figures across time.
Toxic is a new work drawing on the artists’ ongoing interest in the Theatre of the Ridiculous – performances by Jack Smith, with scripts and films by Ronald Tavel, in the late 1960s in New York – which formulated a mocking and outrageous queer critique of capitalism and the normalisation of bodies. The installation presents performances by Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Werner Hirsch, which explore ideas of both the toxic, and of toxicity – substances and people that threaten and destabilise conventional notions of purity and stability. Ultimately turning the lens on itself, Toxic interrogates the filmic apparatus as a medium of toxic substances and effects. Jointly conceived for both the Paris Triennale 2012 and the South London Gallery, the film installation is accompanied by local archival research that charts moments of representational ambiguity in the early history of police photography.
Salomania features filmed performances by pioneering artist and choreographer Yvonne Rainer and artist Wu Tsang as they reconstruct the ‘dance of the seven veils’ from Russian American filmmaker and actress Alla Nazimova’s 1923 silent film Salomé, set against the vast backdrop of the original silent movie. Running as a parallel narrative to this performative reenactment is the presentation of Yvonne Rainer’s 1972 response to Nazimova’s original film. Salomania unfolds as a plotting and collapsing of connections: the Biblical character of Salomé; Oscar Wilde, the playwright; Nazimova; Yvonne Rainer; Wu Tsang; and ultimately the artists themselves.
In this exhibition both ‘acts’, Toxic and Salomania, are linked by a specially produced ‘zine’ for visitors that draws out the multiple forms of archival and theoretical research that accompanies each of Boudry/Lorenz’s films. A live events programme provides a contextual framework for the artists’ practice, further unpacking and expanding on the underlying themes of the works.
Accompanying Screenings, Talks & Events
Talks with Nana Adusei-Poku, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz
Sat 15 Dec, 4pm, £5/£3 book here
A talk by Berlin-based scholar Nana Adusei-Poku, entitled ‘Detox! From Alphonse Bertillon to Queer Visuality’, specifically commissioned in response to Toxic, accompanied by an artists’ talk departing from the works in Toxic Play In Two Acts.
Performances by Antonia Baehr & William Wheeler
Sat 15 Dec, 8pm, £7/£5 for performance book here
Antonia Baehr is one of Boudry/Lorenz’s most frequent collaborators, performing as her alter ego Werner Hirsch in most of their films to date, including Toxic. For this evening of performance, Baehr focuses on her own practice, in turn working with another regular collaborator, William Wheeler.
Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz: Screening
Fri 1 Feb, Tate Tanks, £5/£4
A screening of other works by Boudry/Lorenz as part of the two-day event Charming For The Revolution: A Congress For Gender Talents and Wildness www.tate.org.uk/film .
Toxic Play In Two Acts: Screening
Wed 20 Feb, 7pm, £5/£3 book here
A screening curated by Anne-Sophie Dinant with Electra, departing from the practice of Boudry/Lorenz including works by Jack Smith, Vivienne Dick and Wynne Greenwood amongst others.
Toxic Play In Two Acts is supported by Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia and Swiss Cultural Fund in Britain with support in kind from Institut français du Royaume-Uni.
The associated events programme is supported by Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen e.V. (IFA) and by Goethe-Institut London.
Toxic was co-commissioned by Electra, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and Paris Triennale.
Image: Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Toxic, 2012, super 16mm film / HD, still. Courtesy of the artists, Ellen de Bruijne Projects and Galerie Marcelle Alix
Third Floor, Shacklewell Studios, 18 Shacklewell Lane, London E8 2EZ, UK