Sunday 31 January 16:00
Total running time c. 55min
Introduced by Tom Gunning.
USA, 1936. Directed by Joseph Cornell. With Rose Hobart. Black & white. English. c. 19 mins
American artist Joseph Cornell created delicate, whimsical, sometimes disturbing box collages in which he gathered everyday objects – toys, glasses, marbles, bits of wood – in dreamlike arrangements that evoke scenarios of desire and memory. In this collage film he performs a similar alchemy on a Hollywood melodrama, paying tribute to Rose Hobart, an almost forgotten diva of 1930s cinema. Cornell recut the 1929 film East of Borneo, eliminated all dialogue, overdubbed shots with irrelevant music, destroyed narrative logic, projected it through a blue filter, and added footage from scientific films, thereby transforming Hollywood schlock into a surrealist reverie. Cornell treats images of Hollywood glamor as if they were styles from the past that he re-cuts for a more contemporary look.
Irma Vep, the Last Breath
USA, 2014. Directed by Michelle Handelman. With Zackary Drucker and Flawless Sabrina. Costumes: threeASFOUR, Garo Sparo. Set design by Michelle Handelman, Nadja Verena Marcin. Color. English. HD Video. c. 33 mins
The female jewel thief in a black body suit, Irma Vep (whose name is an anagram for Vampire), debuted in Louis Feuillade’s 1915 silent film serial Les Vampires, and was played by the legendary performer Musidora. The figure has since been a source of fascination for playwrights and filmmakers. Michelle Handelman’s 2014 film Irma Vep, the Last Breath refashions the character into a cross-dressing emblem of the modern mobile sense of gender and personal identity. Imagining the aging Musidora (who in her twilight years sometimes worked as a ticket-taker at the Cinémathèque française in Paris) confront her fictional counterpart, Handelman creates a landscape where costume can redefine identity and where the past comes to act on the present.
Screenings and talks are complimentary and take place at Fashion Project, Bal Harbour Shops, Level 3.
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