'This Delicate Monster' is a multi-media pop fable by Michelle Handelman, the noted video artist, performer and photographer, and the director of the critically acclaimed feature documentary BloodSisters (1999 Bravo Award). It is inspired by Charles Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil.
This Delicate Monster
â€œThis Delicate Monsterâ€ is a multi-media pop fable by Michelle Handelman, the noted video artist, performer and photographer, and the director of the critically acclaimed feature documentary BloodSisters (1999 Bravo Award). It is inspired by Charles Baudelaireâ€™s Flowers of Evil. â€”a book of poems as succulent and darkly suave as 19th-century Paris and Baudelaire himself.
Handelman, in her first solo exhibition at Jack the Pelican, floods the gallery with video and still images, fusing fashion and allegory to present a fragmented narrative both haunting and hallucinatory. She has collaborated with couture costume designer Garo Sparo on masks and costumes for this performance spectacle, and through the use of digital video manipulation and live performance, her characters Age, Youth and Death animate such lines of Baudelaire as, â€œCondemned to an eternal laugh because I know not how to smile.â€
Handelman and her performers will be featured live in the gallery each Saturday between 2 and 4pm. The performance installation To Sleep and Still Sleep, This is my Only Desire features Age and Youth primping and preening on chairs near the rafters. The dress they shareâ€”also made in collaboration with designer Garo Sparoâ€”flows down to consume the front gallery. They speak nonsense, toying with the audience, and lift open their dress with pulleys to reveal a large mirrored box upon a museum display case. A light flicks on inside, the cube turns suddenly transparent and there she isâ€”This Delicate Monster â€”the artist herself, in a persistent and macabre performance of endurance.
â€œTo know nothing,â€ writes Baudelaire in the introduction to Flowers of Evil, â€œTo teach nothing, to will nothing, to feel nothing, to sleep and still to sleep, this is my only wish. A base and loathsome wish, but sincere.â€
Michelle Handelman (M.F.A. Bard College, B.F.A. SF Art Institute) directed BloodSisters (1996), a documentary about the San Fransiscoâ€™s leather dyke community. Now living in New York, her feline-like reinvention of herself brings a new body of work in photography, video and performance that explodes pop imagery through a post-feminist lens. She has collaborated with Monte Cazazza, pioneer of the Industrial music scene, and performed in projects by seminal media artist Lynn Hershman-Leeson. She has a rich and varied history in the pop culture scene; also having collaborated with Eric Werner, co-founder of the destructive metal machine performance entity Survival Research Laboratories on a series of sculptures, creating sound effects for Jon Moritsugu's ITVS production, Terminal USA and contributing to the seminal anthology Apocalypse Culture (Feral House Press) and Inappropriate Behaviour (Serpents Tail).
Her videoâ€™s have shown at the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art; Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; American Film Institute, LA, SF MOMA and her spectacles of post-feminist toughness at Cristinerose Gallery, NY; The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, CT and Bellevue Museum of Art, WA. Recent shows include Passerby
Opens: Saturday, October 23, 7-9pm
Performances: Saturdays, 2â€“4pm
Jack the Pelican Presents
487 Driggs Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Bedford stop on the L train, Williamsburg